The US intelligence claimed that Russia and Iran are collaborating more closely than ever in the areas of fighter jets and lethal drones. Moscow has rebuked Washington’s assessment, as the invasion of Ukraine presses on.
The United States warned on Friday that Russia and Iran are ramping up military cooperation to an extent that is “harmful” to Ukraine and Iran’s neighbors.
Citing intelligence assessments, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby described “an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their relationship into a full-fledged defense partnership.”
Kirby said Iranian pilots are being trained to fly Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets which are expected to be delivered next year. This would “significantly strengthen Iran’s air force relative to its regional neighbors,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kirby said Iran is reportedly considering setting up a jointly-run drone production line in Russia.
Earlier British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly described the defense collaboration and arms transfers as “sordid deals.”
Moscow’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia denounced the US intelligence assessment later on Friday.
Nebenzia told the UN Security Council, that “the military industrial complex in Russia can work perfectly fine and doesn’t need anyone’s assistance. While the Western industry and Western companies are assisting the the Ukrainian military industry that does not basically exist.
He also claimed the allegations about Iranian drones “already refuted” multiple times before.
Iran has acknowledged that it sold drones to Russia in the past, but denies any arms transfers since the invasion of Ukraine.