According to intelligence from the US and Britain, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard appears to be on the ground in Crimea supporting Russian drone attacks against Ukraine.
John Kirby, the American National Security Council spokesperson, stated that Iran had sent personnel in support of Vladimir Putin‘s troops when they launched Iranian-made drones against Ukraine’s power plants and other critical infrastructure.
According to UK government reports, this includes members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, one of the most powerful paramilitary organizations in the Middle East.
This Intelligence finding is made as US President Joe Biden tries to put international pressure on Tehran to stop supporting Russia.
In recent days, Moscow has been increasingly reliant on Iranian-supplied drones as well as its own Kalibr, Iskander cruise missiles to launch a series of attacks against Ukrainian infrastructures and other non-military targets.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zilenskyy stated this week that 30% of Ukraine’s power plants were destroyed by Russian forces since October 10.
“The Iranians have trained trainers and technical support in Crimea,” said Mr Kirby.
He said that the Biden administration was considering imposing additional sanctions on Tehran, and that it would seek out ways to make Iran less likely to sell such weapons to Russia.
Crimea is an unconstitutionally annexed part of Ukraine by Russia, in violation of international law.
This summer, the US revealed that Russia had purchased unmanned aerial vehicles from Iran to launch missiles against Ukraine. Iran denies this.
Officials at the White House claim that Russia has been unable to replenish its ammunition and precision-guided munition stockpiles due to international sanctions. These include export controls.
Russia was forced to look to Iran and North Korea as weapons suppliers as a result.
According to US officials, Iran may have sent military personnel to help the Russians because they are not familiar with Iranian-made drones.
US intelligence documents declassified showed that Russians had technical issues with drones shortly after they were delivered to them in August.
Biden’s administration revealed details about Iran’s participation in Russia’s war just days after new sanctions were imposed on Iran for the brutal crackdown against anti-government protests sparked by the death in Iran of 22-year old Mahsa . Amini died in Iranian security custody.
Amini was detained by moral police last month after she failed to properly cover her hair in the Islamic headscarf known as the hijab. This is mandatory for Iranian women. Amini fell to her death at a station three days after she was arrested.
The UK also announced new sanctions against Iranian officials and businesses that are suspected of providing the drones.
Foreign Secretary James CLeverly said: “These cowardly drone attacks are an act desperation. These strikes have led to untold suffering for the Ukrainian people.
“We will make sure they are held accountable for their actions.”
‘Large scale disaster’
President Zelenskyy is concerned that Russia may attack the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant.
He also called for the world’s swift action to stop a catastrophe.
He stated in his nightly address that Russian terrorists had mined the aggregates and dam at the Kakhovka HPP.
“To prevent another Russian terrorist attack, everyone must take strong and swift action. A large-scale catastrophe would result if the dam was destroyed.