Exclusive: Russians traveled to Iran at least twice in the past month to examine weapons-capable drones


A Russian delegation has visited an airfield in central Iran at least twice in the past month to examine weapons-capable drones, according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan and satellite images obtained exclusively by CNN.

Iran began presenting Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones, also known as drones or unmanned aerial vehicles, to Russia at Kashan airfield south of Tehran in June, officials said. Americans at CNN. Both types of drones are capable of carrying precision-guided missiles.

« We have information that the Iranian government is preparing to supply Russia with several hundred drones, including weapons-capable drones, » Sullivan told CNN in a statement.

“We assess that an official Russian delegation recently received a showcase of attack-capable Iranian drones,” Sullivan added. “We publish these images captured in June showing Iranian drones that the Russian government delegation saw that day. This suggests Russia’s continued interest in acquiring Iranian attack-capable drones.

Sullivan said that to the knowledge of the United States, the June visit « was the first time a Russian delegation has visited this airfield for such a showcase. » A Russian delegation visited the airfield again for a similar showcase on July 5, officials said.

The news comes as Biden wraps up his trip to the Middle East, where Iran was a key talking point between the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries. A US official told CNN that the growing partnership between Iran and Russia illustrates why the United States must maintain its presence and influence in the Middle East.

Biden remains under mounting pressure from Middle Eastern allies to come up with a viable plan to constrain Iran, as hopes of reviving the 2015 nuclear deal faded following stalled talks in Doha, Qatar, last month.

White House officials revealed earlier this week that recently declassified US intelligence indicates Iran is set to supply Russia with ‘hundreds’ of drones for use in the war in Ukraine as Iran prepares to begin training Russian forces on how to operate them by the end of July.

Russia, according to the United States, has apparently turned to Iran to help it replenish its drone stockpiles. However, it is unclear how sophisticated or efficient these drones will be.

Russia had previously turned to China to help support its war in Ukraine, US officials revealed in March. By the end of May, the United States had seen no evidence that China had provided military or economic support to Russia for the invasion, Sullivan told reporters at the time.

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