The White House said Iranian military officials visited Crimea and used drones to support Russian operations targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby said the presence of Iranian personnel was evidence of Tehran’s direct involvement in the conflict.
“We can confirm that Russian military personnel based in Crimea are operating Iranian UAVs and are using them to carry out attacks across Ukraine, including attacks against Kyiv,” Kirby said, referring to the unmanned aerial vehicle. said.
CNN previously reported that Iranian military personnel were sent to Crimea to train Russian troops.
“Iranian military personnel were on the ground in Crimea to support these operations,” he said. “Russia has received dozens of UAVs to date and will likely continue to receive additional shipments.”
The United States has previously said Russia has obtained drones from Iran, but has not previously disclosed that Iranian personnel support the use of weapons on the ground.
Kirby said there were “relatively few” Iranians on the ground.
“Tehran is now directly involved on the ground through the provision of weapons that are affecting, killing civilians and destroying Ukrainian civilian infrastructure,” he said.
He said the Russians were not familiar with using drones and would need the help of Iranian personnel to use them.
He said the US is now concerned that Russia is seeking to acquire additional weapons from Iran, including surface-to-surface missiles. He said Iran and Russia continue to lie about their partnership.
“They can lie to the world, but they can’t hide the facts,” he said.