Sunday, April 14, 2024

Ukraine claims Iranian advisors killed in Crimea

Ukraine’s top security official has claimed that several Iranian military advisers have been killed in Crimea and warned that any other Iranians on Ukrainian territory in support of Russia's military operation would also be targeted. Tehran has repeatedly said it has taken a policy of active neutrality in the Ukraine war.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, stated that Iranians were present in Crimea to help Russia pilot the Shahed-136 armed drones supplied by the Tehran government, but did not say how many Ukraine had killed.

“You shouldn’t be where you shouldn’t be,” Danilov said, in an interview in Kyiv.

“They were on our territory. We didn’t invite them here, and if they collaborate with terrorists and participate in the destruction of our nation we must kill them,” he added.

After initially denying the presence of Iranian drones in Ukraine, the Tehran government has claimed that it had supplied a “small number” of the unmanned aircraft to Russia months before Vladimir Putin launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine in February. It denies sending Iranian trainers to help Russians fly the drones from occupied territory.

Kyiv has expressed scepticism about Iran’s version of events, and experts from both countries have met at Tehran’s request to discuss evidence collected by Ukraine.

“The Iranians keep insisting that they are not suppliers of weapons to the Russian Federation but we need confirmation. Do we have this confirmation as of today? No we don’t.” Danilov said.

“We understand these things don’t fly without [people] learning how to operate them, and the Russians don’t have the brains to figure it out themselves … In the modern world you can’t hide anything. It is just a matter of time when it will be made public,” he added.

He stated it was unclear whether Iran had also delivered ballistic missiles to Russia.

“We are trying to answer this question and we’ll do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen,” Danilov continued.

“But if it does happen, it will tell us two things. First, that Russia has no capability of manufacturing their own missiles, at least in the numbers that would allow it to continue a large-scale war. Second, if a country that has been under sanctions since 1979 has a capability of producing such weapons, what kind of sanctions are we talking about? So it raises a big question about enforcement,” he noted.

Wave after wave of Russian air attacks, including drone and missile strikes, have since October targeted Ukraine’s civilian energy infrastructure, plunging it into blackouts as the winter cold has begun to fall across the country. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, told a meeting UN security council late on Wednesday that the attacks “an obvious crime against humanity” and said Kyiv would put forward a resolution condemning “any forms of energy terror”.

The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Thursday sought to blame Ukraine, noting it could “end all possible suffering of the civilian population” if it met “the demands of the Russian side”

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