Oct 20, 2022 - World

U.S. has evidence of Iranian troops "on the ground" in Crimea

residential building destroyed by a Russian drone strike

A residential building in Kyiv destroyed by a Russian drone strike, which local authorities consider to be Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicles. Photo: Oleksii Chumachenko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The U.S. has evidence that Iranian troops are “directly engaged on the ground” in Crimea assisting Russia's drone strikes in Ukraine, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Thursday at a press briefing, AP reported.

Driving the news: Russia's escalation of attacks — in some cases with the use of Iranian drones — on Ukraine since Oct. 10 has caused massive blackouts and energy rationing across Ukraine.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned earlier this week that Russian attacks had already destroyed 30% of the country's power stations.
  • Ukraine's energy system has suffered more attacks since the Russian escalation ten days ago than in the previous eight months of the war, the country's electric utility, Ukrenergo, wrote in a Telegram post Wednesday.

What they're saying: “The information we have is that the Iranians have put trainers and tech support in Crimea, but it’s the Russians who are doing the piloting,” Kirby said, per AP.

  • Kirby noted that the amount of Iranian personnel in Crimea was a "relatively small number."
  • "We can confirm that Russian military personnel based in Crimea have been piloting Iranian UAVs and using them to conduct strikes" against Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a press briefing Thursday, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • "We assess that Iranian personnel — Iranian military personnel — were on the ground in Crimea and assisted Russia in these operations," he added.
  • "Russia has received dozens of these UAVs so far and will likely continue to receive additional shipments in the future."
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