EU ministers to discuss potential Iran sanctions for lethal drone supply to Russia. Source: THE TIMES OF ISRAEL / AFP

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Iran denies supplying Russia with weapons ‘for Ukraine war’

EU ministers to discuss potential Iran sanctions for lethal drone supply to Russia

Diplomats say Tehran’s transfer of UAVs used to strike Ukraine will be on agenda in Luxembourg; ministers also set to endorse new penalties on Iran over crackdown on protests

By TOI staff and Agencies Today, 12:36 pm

A local resident sits outside a building destroyed by Russian, Iranian-made, drones after an airstrike on Bila Tserkva, southwest of Kyiv, on October 5, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)

Ministers from European Union countries will discuss potential future sanctions on Iran over its supply of suicide drones to Russia.

According to the Reuters news agency, two unnamed diplomats said the matter would be debated on Monday at a ministerial meeting in Luxembourg.

Russia began using the Iranian-made Shahed-136 drone last month to carry out deadly strikes in Ukraine.

Moscow has reportedly received delivery of hundreds of units from Tehran, despite Washington warning the Iranians against exporting the weapon.

The diplomats told the news agency that after an analysis of the recent drone activity, it was decided to add the issue to the agenda of the ministerial meeting.

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The diplomats said that while new sanctions would not be immediately imposed in relation to Iran’s supply of suicide drones, an agreement between the ministers could be reached on the matter, paving the way for future penalties.

The wreckage of what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone downed near Kupiansk, Ukraine, September 13, 2022. (Ukrainian military’s Strategic Communications Directorate via AP)

Iran on Saturday once again rejected allegations that it has supplied Russia with weapons “to be used in the war in Ukraine.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian “emphasized that the Islamic Republic of Iran has not and will not provide any weapon to be used in the war in Ukraine,” the Iranian foreign ministry said in a statement.

“We believe that the arming of each side of the crisis will prolong the war,” the Iranian foreign minister said in a call with his Portuguese counterpart Joao Gomes Cravinho.

“We have not considered and do not consider war to be the right path either in Ukraine or in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian looks on during a press conference in Tehran, on July 20, 2022. (ATTA KENARE / AFP)

  • In a separate phone call with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday, Amir-Abdollahian reiterated Iran’s official stance of neutrality over the war that started with Russia’s invasion nearly eight months ago.
  • “We have defense cooperation with Russia, but our policy regarding the war in Ukraine is not sending weapons to the conflicting parties, stopping the war and ending the displacement of people,” he said.

Ukraine said Monday that Russia used Iranian drones launched from Belarus, as well as missiles, in a wave of deadly strikes.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said “dozens of missiles and Iranian Shaheds” were used by Russia to target civilians and infrastructure sites.

Last month, Kyiv decided to significantly reduce its diplomatic relations with Tehran over alleged arms deliveries to Russia.

A family walks past a building destroyed by Russian, Iranian-made, drones after an airstrike on Bila Tserkva, southwest of Kyiv, on October 5, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)

Israel is reportedly providing Kyiv with “basic intelligence” on the Iranian suicide drones being deployed by the Russian army, but has resisted calls from Kyiv to provide anti-missile and drone technology.

However, other Western allies of Ukraine have vowed to deliver new air defenses “as fast as we can,” after Kyiv pressed them to bolster protection against Russia’s blitz.

Also at the Monday meeting, EU countries are set to endorse the levelling of new sanctions on the Islamic Republic over the deadly crackdown during a month of demonstrations over Mahsa Amini’s death.

  • Iran has been rocked by protests since the young woman’s death on September 16, three days after she was arrested by the so-called “morality police” in Tehran for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, tear gas is fired by security to disperse protestors in front of the Tehran University, Iran, October 1, 2022. (AP Photo)

The street violence has led to dozens of deaths, the vast majority among protestors but also members of the security forces, while hundreds have been arrested.

The United States, Canada and Britain have already imposed sanctions on Iranian officials and entities over the protests.

Tehran has warned of tit-for-tat measures if the EU makes a similar move.

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