"Kyiv has information useful to Baku, Riyadh and other capitals in the region"
    Expert Sergey Danilov on Iranian UAVs in the Russian army

    INTERVIEWS  03 October 2022 - 16:32

    UAVs allegedly supplied by Tehran to the Russian army have caused tensions between Ukraine and Iran. The Ukrainian leadership has been harshly accusing the Iranian side, while the latter has meanwhile denied that the Russian army is fighting with Iranian UAVs. However, Ukraine, since mid-September, has been reporting on deadly Iranian drones that Russia has begun to use en masse in the war. In response, Kyiv has cancelled diplomatic accreditation for some Iranian diplomats. With each news of the use of these drones on Ukrainian territory, diplomatic relations between the countries are getting worse.

    Iran's Foreign Ministry has officially stated that the country has not supplied drones to Russia. The Iranian foreign minister specifically stressed to his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that they did not do this. Moreover, the Iranians have denied providing drones to Russia several times. For example, the other day the Iranian foreign minister said the same thing in an interview with the New York Times, insisting that Iran is developing defence cooperation with Russia but has not provided any drones. At the same time, there have been statements that Iran has sent from several hundred to more than a thousand drones to Russia. So the situation is very ambiguous.

    But how can this end? What consequences can Iran expect if Ukraine manages to present irrefutable evidence of its involvement in drone deliveries? Will it trigger the imposition of new sanctions against Iran? Is it possible to explain the country's decision to do this? After all, it takes Iran even further away from resolving its relations with the international community.

    Sergey Danilov, deputy director of the Centre for Middle East Studies (Kyiv) and political analyst, shared his views with Caliber.Az.

    He recalled that Iran did not heed the warnings of the Ukrainian side and delivered to Russia a certain number of UAVs of several types. In response to this unfriendly step, Kyiv withdrew the accreditation of the ambassador and limited the number of Iranian diplomats.

    "The response to the direct connivance of the aggressor country and the violator of the basic foundations of international law is not too decisive at first glance. However, Kyiv is now interested not only in spectacular steps. In a situation of war, the response may not be accompanied by loud PR actions, but it may be quite sensitive.

    What are these measures, purely theoretically? To begin with, the ambassador of a specific country like the IRI is not just a diplomat. Ambassadors to key partner countries are selected and controlled by the office of Rahbar, the Supreme Leader of Iran. In addition, a noticeable part of the Iranian diplomatic corps is composed of individuals associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Incidentally, the Corps' intelligence is also located in Rahbar's office. The Corps has multilayered and complex diplomatic and espionage activities in many countries around the world and is interested in both intelligence gathering and direct action. They are also involved in covering up drug trafficking. Under diplomatic cover, it is (was) definitely easier to do so. It would be logical to assume that all the Iranian diplomats who had even minimal suspicions of ties with the Corps were thrown out of Kyiv in shame," the political analyst said.

    According to him, the AFU General Staff published footage of several captured Iranian UAVs immediately after the first use. A few days later, Defence Minister Reznikov said that experts had carefully studied their technical characteristics and this information would help to effectively counteract the drones. Of course, technically simple Iranian UAVs are not a brilliant piece of engineering, the expert noted, but any additional information about them is of great interest not only to Ukraine.

    "Amid the intensification of Kyiv's cooperation with key partners in the Middle East (as evidenced by the participation of Saudi Arabia in the swap of captured defence leaders of Mariupol), the appointment of Maxim Subh by President Zelensky as a special representative in the region, and some other steps, it would be logical to assume that the interaction between Riyadh and Kyiv is not limited only to the supply of food. Now Kyiv has information that is useful to Baku, Riyadh, and many other capitals in the region. It is not known whether Ukraine exchanges frequencies with partners on which Iranian drones can be effectively jammed, but it seems obvious that Kyiv is determined to contribute to regional security," Sergey Danilov concluded.


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