The U.S. government has said it believes Iran is planning to provide Russia with “hundreds” of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including weapons-capable drones, for use in its war in Ukraine.

U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on July 11 that Washington had information that shows Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use the drones.

The comments come amid reports that the Russian military is struggling to sustain its arsenal of weaponry after suffering significant losses against Ukrainian forces since its February 24 invasion.

“The Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs, on an expedited timeline,” Sullivan told reporters.

“Our information further indicates that Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use these UAVs, with initial training sessions slated to begin as soon as early July,” he said.

Sullivan said it was unclear whether Tehran had already provided any of the systems to Russia.

Sullivan said it was a sign that Russia’s massive bombardments in Ukraine — which have allowed Moscow to consolidate gains in eastern Ukraine following setbacks around Kyiv — are “coming at a cost to the sustainment of its own weapons.”

Sullivan also said that Iran had provided similar UAVs to Yemen’s Huthi rebels to attack Saudi Arabia before a cease-fire was declared earlier this year.

Drones have played an important role for both sides in the war in Ukraine.

Kyiv’s forces have had success in using Turkish-made Bayraktar armed combat UAVs, and Washington and other allies have provided Ukraine with a variety of smaller drone types.

Source » rferl