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Russia has visited Iran, seen drones that could be used in Ukraine war

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Russian officials visited an airfield in Iran multiple times in the last few weeks to view weapons-capable drones that could be used in its war against Ukraine, the White House said.

Driving the news: The White House released satellite imagery that indicates Russian officials visited Iran for a showcase of weapons-capable drones, AP reports.

  • Russian officials visited Kashan Airfield on June 8 and July 5 to examine the drones, according to the images.
  • The images show Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones being displayed and in flight on the airfield, while a Russian delegation transport plane was on the ground, per AP.
  • “This suggests ongoing Russian interest in acquiring Iranian attack-capable UAVs,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Why it matters: Russia’s presence in Iran could help the Biden administration connect the relevance of Russia’s war with Ukraine to Arab nations’ concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, AP writes.

  • Sullivan argued that Russia’s “deepening an alliance with Iran to kill Ukrainians is something that the whole world should look at.”

The big picture: Sullivan said Monday that the Biden administration believes Iran is planning to deliver Russia “up to several hundred” unmanned aerial vehicles, including weapons-capable drones.

  • Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that reports of Iran exporting drones to Russia were “baseless,” AP reports.

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