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Iran acknowledges supplying Russia with drones, claims it happened before Feb. 24
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian acknowledged for the first time on Nov. 5 that his country had provided drones to Russia but claimed that it happened before Russia's full-scale invasion.
Tehran's unexpected confession comes as Russia ramps up its attacks on targets across Ukraine with Iranian-made Shahed-136 kamikaze drones.
"We gave a limited number of drones to Russia months before the Ukraine war," Amir-Abdollahian told reporters after a meeting in Tehran, the Associated Press quotes.
The first-ever known case of Ukraine shooting down an Iranian-made kamikaze drone took place in September, near the liberated city of Kupiansk in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast. Since then, Russia has launched waves of attacks using kamikaze drones in strikes that killed civilians and destroyed energy facilities nationwide.
Russian-operated kamikaze drones attacked Kyiv for the first time on Oct. 17, killing five people.
Despite growing evidence, Iran has thus far denied accusations that it has supplied Russia with its drones. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed in October that Russia wasn't using Iranian drones in its war against Ukraine.
Both Ukrainian and Western intelligence assessments signal that Tehran has provided Russia with deadly weapons and will likely continue doing so.
Ukraine's intelligence previously said that Iran plans to send over 200 combat drones to Russia in early November, and kamikaze drones would be included in the upcoming batch.
In addition to the drones, Iran is preparing to send about 1,000 additional weapons, which would include the first-ever delivery of surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles that could boost Moscow's military capabilities, according to Western officials who spoke with CNN.