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EU, UK announce sanctions over Iran’s drone deliveries to Russia

Iranian Drones (Mahdi Marizad/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The European Union and Britain have slapped sanctions on Iranian individuals and a weapons company that they say have supplied Iranian kamikaze drones to Russia that have been used in its wave of air strikes on Ukrainian civilian and infrastructure targets.

The names of Iranian drone maker Shahed Aviation Industries and three top Iranian military officials were published in the EU official journal on October 20, adding them to the sanctions blacklist.

Major General Mohammed Hossein Bagheri, the current chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, logistics officer General Sayed Hojatollah Qureishi and Brigadier General Saeed Aghajani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards drone program, were sanctioned.

“After three days of talks, EU ambassadors agreed on measures against entities supplying Iranian drones that hit Ukraine,” the EU’s Czech presidency said on Twitter.

“The EU is also prepared to extend sanctions to four more Iranian entities that already featured in a previous sanctions list.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba saluted the announcement of EU sanctions in a message on Twitter.

“I welcome the EU’s prompt action following my appeal on Monday (October 17) to impose sanctions on Iran for helping Russia kill Ukrainians and damage our energy infrastructure,” Kuleba said.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said on October 20 that Iran’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine was “deplorable” as it sanctioned the senior military figures and the manufacturer.

“Today we are sanctioning those who have supplied the drones used by Russia to target Ukrainian civilians,” Cleverly said. “This is clear evidence of Iran’s destabilizing role in global security.”

Russian forces have launched successive waves of attacks since October 10 on Ukrainian civilian and infrastructure targets using suspected Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said during his evening address on October 19 that 233 Iranian Shahed drones have been destroyed by Ukrainian air defenses over the past 10 days.

Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said on October 20 that Russia has carried out about 300 strikes on Ukraine’s energy system over the past 10 days.

Russia claims it has no knowledge of its army using Iranian drones in Ukraine while Tehran has said the accusations are “baseless.”

European Council chief Charles Michel welcomed the move as he hosted the 27 EU leaders at a summit in Brussels.

“We take swift action against Iran who supports Russia’s war in Ukraine,” he said.

“I welcome the EU Council decision to adopt in record time restrictive measures against those in Iran who provide military support to Russia,” he said.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said: “This is our clear response to the Iranian regime providing Russia with drones, which it uses to murder innocent Ukrainian citizens.”

Ukraine’s Western allies have said they will provide Kyiv with advanced air-defense systems to counter the Russian strikes.

In a briefing on October 20, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova repeated Moscow’s aggressive criticism of the West for shipping billions of dollars worth of advanced arms to Ukraine to help Kyiv defend itself against Russia’s eight-month military invasion.

Zakharova said the arms deliveries made the EU party to the conflict in Ukraine and that countries pumping Ukraine with weapons were “sponsors of terrorism.”