Ukraine cuts ties with Iran over supply of ‘bad’ drones to Russia

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Sept. 23 (Reuters) – Ukraine said Friday it would weaken diplomatic ties with Iran over Tehran’s decision to provide Russian troops with drones, a move President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called “a collaboration with evil.”

Zelenskiy said a total of eight Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicles have been shot down so far in the conflict.

Ukraine and the United States accused Iran of supplying drones to Russia, a charge Tehran denies.

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“Today, the Russian military has used Iranian drones for its attacks. … The world will be aware of any case of cooperation with evil, and it will have corresponding consequences,” Zelenskiy said in a video address late at night.

Military authorities in southern Ukraine said in a statement they shot down four Shahed-136 “kamikaze” unmanned aerial vehicles over the sea near the port of Odessa on Friday.

The air force separately said it had shot down a Mohajer-6, a larger Iranian drone, for the first time, Ukrainska Pravda newspaper reported.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said earlier that the delivery of drones had dealt a serious blow to bilateral relations.

“In response to such an unfriendly act, the Ukrainian side has decided to strip Iran’s ambassador of accreditation and also to significantly reduce the number of diplomatic staff at the Iranian embassy in Kiev,” it said in a statement.

The message was handed over to the acting ambassador, as the permanent envoy, Manouchehr Moradi, is not currently in Ukraine.

Military experts say the drones would be useful to Russia for both reconnaissance and loitering munitions that can bide their time locating and attacking suitable targets.

In August, a senior US government official said Russia has faced “countless failures” with Iran-made drones purchased from Tehran.

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Reporting by David Ljunggren Editing by Mark Potter, Alistair Bell and Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

David Ljunggren

Thomson Reuters

Covers Canadian political, economic and general news, as well as breaking news in North America, formerly based in London and Moscow and winner of Reuters’ Treasury Scoop of the Year.

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