Iran is planning to supply hundreds of drones with combat weapon capabilities to Russia for use in Ukraine, a top US official said on Monday.
Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, said the information received by the US supported views that the Russian military is facing challenges sustaining its weaponry after significant losses in Ukraine.
“The Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), including weapons-capable UAVs, on an expedited timeline,” Mr Sullivan told reporters.
“Our information further indicates that Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use these UAVs, with initial training sessions slated to begin as soon as early July,” he said.
Mr Sullivan said it was not clear whether Iran had delivered any of the drones to Russia yet.
He also noted that Iran has provided similar unmanned aerial vehicles to Yemen’s Houthi rebels to attack Saudi Arabia before a ceasefire was reached earlier this year.
Mr Sullivan’s revelation comes on the eve of President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, where Iran’s nuclear program and malign activities in the region will be a key subject of discussion.
The US decision to publicly reveal that the two countries’ chief regional rival was helping to rearm Russia comes as both Israel and Saudi Arabia have resisted joining global efforts to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine due to their domestic interests.