The Ukrainian army fears that Russia is purchasing medium-range missiles from Iran that it plans to use in its war in the country, adding to the hundreds of drones it has already purchased from Tehran.
The prospect is dangerous because Ukraine has no suitable defensive weapons, Ukrainian Air Force Command spokesperson Yuri Ihnat said in Kyiv on Tuesday. “We have air defense, not missile defense,” he said.
The missiles in question are Iranian-made ballistic ones with a range between 300 and 700 kilometers (186 and 434 miles), which are similar to the Russian Iskander-M type surface-to-surface missiles.
Iran will supply Russia with medium-range missiles and other drones, U.S. broadcaster CNN reported on Tuesday, citing the findings of Western arms experts.
The CNN report claimed that Iran is planning to send approximately 1,000 additional weapons, including surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles and more attack drones, to Russia to use in its war against Ukraine. The shipment is being closely followed as it would be the first instance of Iran sending advanced precision-guided missiles to Russia, which could provide a significant advantage in the field.
According to the information, Russia has so far mainly used the Iranian disposable Shahed-136 combat drone. But Iran and Russia have rejected claims of an arms deal.
According to Ukraine, it has already shot down 300 of these drones. The German Gepard (Cheetah) anti-aircraft tank has proven itself in this regard.
Since Russia started firing drones, rockets and cruise missiles at Ukraine’s energy infrastructure recently, many countries have pledged more anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine. The first two of eight promised U.S. NASAM air defense systems should arrive there soon, a Pentagon official said in Washington on Monday.
The White House said Tuesday Iran was willingly taking part in killing Ukrainians by providing drones to Russia for the war and voiced concern it would also ship missiles to Moscow.
By arming the Russians, the Iranian regime “is involved in killing innocent Ukrainians,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said.
“At its core, this is a regime in Tehran that is openly and willingly making themselves an accomplice to the murder of innocent Ukrainian people on Ukrainian soil.”
Kirby noted Iran’s provision of attack drones to Russia, which have been deployed in recent weeks to damage Ukraine’s infrastructure.
But he would not confirm reports that Tehran could also send short-range ballistic missiles to Russia.
“We remain concerned about the potential of Iran to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles,” Kirby told reporters.
“We haven’t seen that bear out, but it’s a concern that we have,” he said.