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Home News Russian errors prompted the deployment of Iranian drone personnel to Ukraine, a U.S. official says.

Russian errors prompted the deployment of Iranian drone personnel to Ukraine, a U.S. official says.

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A senior U.S. official said Thursday that Russian errors in operating drones purchased from Iran had prompted the deployment of Iranian personnel to Crimea and warned that Russia might try to obtain other advanced weapons from Tehran.

John Kirby, a National Security Council official, said in a briefing that Iran had deployed drone trainers to Crimea after the Russian military had suffered “operator and system failures early on” with the drones.

“Either they weren’t being piloted appropriately and properly and were failing to reach targets,” Mr. Kirby said. “Or the systems themselves were suffering failures and not performing to the standards that, apparently, the customers expected. So the Iranians decided to move in some trainers and some technical support to help the Russians use them with better lethality.”

The deployment of the trainers to Crimea to try to address mechanical problems with the drones was reported by The New York Times on Tuesday.

Iranian drones have been used in attacks on civilians, including strikes in Kyiv that have killed multiple people. They have also been used as part of a stepped-up campaign by Russia to take down Ukraine’s electrical grid with drone strikes on power facilities around the country.

“And the fact is this: Tehran is now directly engaged on the ground and through the provision of weapons that are impacting civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, in fact, that are killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in Ukraine,” Mr. Kirby said.

Iran has denied sending drones to Russia or deploying trainers to Ukraine. And the Kremlin has denied using Iranian drones to attack civilians.

In separate briefings on Thursday, Ned Price, the State Department spokesman; Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman; and Mr. Kirby all confirmed the Iranian presence in Crimea, and called out Iran and Russia for lying about the drone sales and attacks in Ukraine.

“There is extensive proof of their use by Russia against both military and civilian targets there,” Mr. Kirby said. “Yet both Iran and Russia continue to lie about it.”

Mr. Kirby said the United States was concerned that Russia would try to buy surface-to-surface missiles from Iran. He provided few details, but said Russia’s moves to purchase weapons from Iran showed the desperation of Moscow. The Washington Post earlier reported that Russia was seeking to purchase advanced missiles from Iran.

Russia has had a shortage of high-end missiles, and has in some cases tried to repurpose surface-to-air missiles, which have smaller warheads, to attack targets on the ground.

At a briefing at the Pentagon, General Ryder said that the United States saw Iran as “complicit in terms of exporting terror not only in the Middle East region but now also to Ukraine.”

After The New York Times published an article on Tuesday reporting that Iranian trainers had deployed to Crimea, an Iranian spokesman denied the claim and noted that Russia had done the same.

Mr. Kirby said that the United States would continue to work to expose and deter Iran’s provision of munitions that could be used against Ukraine. The United States has imposed sanctions on Iranians and Iranian companies involved in the design and transfer of the drones to Russia, and Mr. Kirby said those efforts would continue.

“We’re going to make it harder for Iran to sell these weapons to Russia,” Mr. Kirby said.

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