Sunday, April 14, 2024

Zelnsky accuses Iran of helping Russia ‘prolong’ war

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated the claims that Iran has supplied Russia with drones for use in the Ukraine war, adding this has led to the prolongation of the war. Tehran has reaffirmed its stance of active neutrality in the conflict.

“Iran supports Russia’s terrorist regime and helps prolong the war and therefore prolongs the threats to the world created by Russia’s war of aggression,” Zelensky said in his daily video address.

Without Tehran’s support for Moscow, Ukraine “would already be closer to peace,” the Ukrainian leader added.

Zelenskyy had accused Tehran of lying about sending a limited number of drones to Moscow. He claimed that Ukrainian forces are shooting down at least 10 UAVs a day.

Iran for the first time confirmed it sold drones to Russia, but noted that this happened “months” before the start of the war in Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters after an event in Tehran on Saturday, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian addressed claims by Western officials that Iranian drones were supplied to Moscow for its military operation, and that surface-to-surface missiles may also be on the way.

“Their comments on the missiles part are completely wrong, and the drones part is correct. We gave a limited number of drones to Russia months and before the war in Ukraine,” Amirabdollahian said.

Iranian officials had previously said on numerous occasions that Tehran had “defence” cooperation with Russia, but had not supplied the Kremlin with arms “for the purpose of being used in the war in Ukraine”.

Amirabdollahian reiterated on Saturday that Iran has not been a supporter of either side in the war and is ready to talk to Ukraine.

“We have emphasised to Ukrainian officials that if there is evidence about the use of Iranian drones in the Ukraine war by Russia, they should present it to us,” the diplomat added.

According to the foreign minister, an Iranian political and military delegation travelled to an unnamed European country two weeks ago to hold a meeting with Ukrainian counterparts, but they refused to attend “at the 11th hour” as a result of pressure from the United States and Europe, especially Germany.

“They had told the Ukrainian side that we want to sanction Iran for the issue of drones, and now you wish to participate in a meeting with the Iranians in Europe and drink coffee with them,” he added.

But, Zelensky dismissed talk of limited Iranian supplies to Russia.

“Even with this confession, they are lying,” the Ukrainian leader said in his daily video message.

The number of Iranian combat drones shot down by Ukrainian air defences exceeds the “few” drones cited by Iran, he continued, adding, “And the more Tehran lies, the more the international community will understand this terrorist collaboration between the regimes in Russia and Iran.”

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