As battle for Ukraine’s skies rages, Iran acknowledges sending drones to Russia

Wreckage of a drone
Ukraine says this is the wreckage of a Shahed drone supplied by Iran to Russia.
(Ukrainian Strategic Communications Directorate)

Iran’s foreign minister has acknowledged for the first time that his country has supplied Russia with drones, but he insisted that the transfer came before Moscow’s war on Ukraine, which has seen the Iranian-made drones divebombing Kyiv.

The comments Saturday by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian came after months of confusing messaging from Tehran about the weapons shipment, as Russia sends the drones to slam into Ukrainian energy infrastructure and civilian targets.

“We gave a limited number of drones to Russia months before the Ukraine war,” Amirabdollahian told reporters after a meeting in Tehran.


Previously, Iranian officials had denied arming Russia in its war on Ukraine. Just earlier this week, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Amir Saeid Iravani, called the allegations “totally unfounded” and reiterated Iran’s position of neutrality in the war. The U.S. and its Western allies on the U.N. Security Council have called on Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to investigate whether Russia has used Iranian drones to attack civilians in Ukraine.

Drones made by Iran and used by Russia have cemented their reputation as a potent and cost-effective weapon to seek out and destroy the enemy.

Oct. 18, 2022

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard has vaguely boasted of providing drones to the world’s top powers. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has extolled the efficacy of the drones and mocked Western hand-wringing over their danger. During state-backed demonstrations to mark the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Friday, crowds waved placards of the triangle-shaped drones as a symbol of national pride.

As he acknowledged the shipment, Amirabdollahian claimed Saturday that Iran was unaware of the use of its drones in Ukraine. He said Iran remained committed to stopping the conflict.

“If [Ukraine] has any documents in their possession that Russia used Iranian drones in Ukraine, they should provide them to us,” he said. “If it is proven to us that Russia used Iranian drones in the war against Ukraine, we will not be indifferent to this issue.”