White House: Iranian Troops Were Sent To Ukraine Help Russia Use Iranian Drones
WASHINGTON - WASHINGTON - White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said that Iranian troops were sent to Ukraine to help assist Russia in operating Iranian-made drones that Russia had reportedly purchased from the country.
"We assess that Iranian military personnel were on the ground in Crimea and assisted Russia in these operations," Kirby stated.
"The systems themselves were suffering failures and not performing to the standards that apparently the customers expected," he added.
When asked how many Iranian troops were in Ukraine, and why they were there, Kirby stated, “I don’t have a number … What we do know is there’s a relatively small number that are."
At a different briefing, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said, "Russia has received dozens of these UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) so far. And will likely continue to receive additional shipments in the future".
Price added that the United States has "credible information that Russian officials prior to the presence of Iranian trainers in Crimea have received training in Iran."
Kirby also said that Russia's advanced weapons systems are being used up and that the administration is concerned that Iran might provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles.
"Furthermore, in light of Russia’s ongoing supply sort of shortages, we are concerned that Russia may also seek to acquire advanced conventional weapons from Iran such as surface to surface missiles that will almost certainly be used to support the war against Ukraine," Kirby said.
Department Of Defense Statement On Iranian Troops Operating In Ukraine
"The Defense Department assesses that Iranians have been in Ukraine to assist Russia with the drone operation there, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a media briefing at the Pentagon today.
The department's understanding is that Iranian military personnel are on the ground in Crimea assisting Russian military personnel to conduct these drone operations in Ukraine, he said.
Ryder noted that the department knows the drones are from Iran. However, the Iranians reportedly have denied shipping drones to be used against Ukraine.
"It's just indicative of the kinds of rhetoric that you hear coming from Iran and from Russia, trying to say that these are not Iranian drones when they clearly are," Ryder said.
"In many ways, these drones are used to, as psychological weapons used to create fear. But from an operational, from a strategic standpoint, it still doesn't change the fact that Russian forces on the ground continue to lose territory or at best hold ground," he said.
The department is going to continue to work with allies and partners to get security assistance to Ukraine as Ukrainians continue to fight and defend their country, he said.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has spoken recently to the Ukrainian minister of defense, as well as with allies and partners, about what can be done to continue to support Ukraine in areas like air defense and other needed capabilities, he added.
"We continue to see Iran be complicit in terms of exporting terror — not only in the Middle East region, but now also to Ukraine. And, so, I think that speaks for itself," he said.
On a different topic, Ryder said the Air Force plans to unveil the nation's newest strategic bomber aircraft — the B-21 Raider — on Dec. 2 at the Northrop Grumman Corporation's production facilities in Palmdale, California.
"Raider will provide our nation with a formidable combat capability that can be deployed across a range of operations in the highly contested environments of the future," he said.
The B-21 is a long-range, highly survivable, penetrating-strike, stealth bomber that will incrementally replace the B-1 and B-2 bomber aircraft, becoming the backbone of the Air Force bomber fleet, he said."
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