The head of the CIA said in an interview broadcast Friday that Russia is trying to help Iran, which would pose a threat to US allies in the region.
“What is beginning to emerge are at least the beginnings of a full defense partnership between Russia and Iran, in which the Iranians supply the Russians with drones that kill Ukrainian civilians,” Burns told PBS.
Burns said the relationship between Tehran and Moscow “has already had an impact on the battlefield in Ukraine, resulting in the deaths of many innocent Ukrainians”.
He continued, “I think it could have a much more serious impact on the Middle East as well if it continues, which is something we take very seriously.”
Iran has supplied Russia with suicide drones, which Moscow has used to strike infrastructure targets during the war in Ukraine. The European Union claimed to have prove that Iran has been selling drones to Russia since the start of the military operation last February.
Burns’ comments came after NBC reported earlier this month that Russia was providing an “unprecedented level” of military and technical support to Iran in exchange of weapons that Tehran has supplied to Moscow for use in Ukraine. In addition to drones, Tehran is also considering supplying ballistic missiles to Russia.
An unnamed senior US official in President Joe Biden’s administration told NBC, “This partnership poses a threat not only to Ukraine but also to Iran’s neighbors in the region. We have shared this information with partners in Middle East and in Worldwide”.
The report said Russia could supply Iran with military equipment, including helicopters and air defense systems, as well as train Iranian pilots on the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet. US officials also said Iran “could start receiving planes within the next year”.
The Russian military checks in large parts of Syrian airspace, complicating Moscow’s relationship with Israel, which carries out multiple strikes on targets there as part of its efforts to keep Iran from entrenching itself on its doorstep. To this end, Israel is cooperating with the Russian military and Israel’s strategic need to maintain freedom of operations in Syria appears to be the reason behind its decision to provide Kiev with only humanitarian aid rather than the requested military assistance.
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