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Iran admits it supplied drones to Russia before Ukraine war began

Kyiv has warned Iran that the “consequences” of supporting Russia in its war against Ukraine are greater than the “benefits”.

It comes after Iran admitted for the first time it has supplied drones to Moscow, but only before the war began.

The West believes Russia has used Iranian “kamikaze” drones to hit key infrastructure sites in Ukraine, but Iran and Moscow previously denied it.

Blackouts have hit much of Ukraine after the attacks on power stations.

Western officials have accused Iran of supplying drones to Russia and of providing personnel on the ground to train Russian drone pilots.

Previously, Tehran denied the accusations, but on Saturday Iran’s foreign minister said a small number of the vehicles had been sent to Moscow.

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“We provided a limited number of drones to Russia many months prior to the Ukraine war,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told reporters in Tehran.

Ukraine hit back, saying Iran’s support for Russia would eventually backfire.

“Tehran should realise that the consequences of complicity in the crimes of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine will be much greater than the benefit of Russia’s support,” foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said.

The US, EU and UK have all imposed sanctions on Iran for supplying drones to Russia for use in the conflict.

Russia has used the Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones – named after the Japanese suicide pilots in World War Two because they get destroyed on impact – to hit critical infrastructure sites across Ukraine.

As a consequence, rolling blackouts and restrictions on electricity use have been imposed just as the weather turns cold for winter.

Some Western leaders have called the attacks “war crimes”, because under the Geneva Conventions – which define the rules of war – civilian infrastructure cannot be deliberately targeted.

On Saturday, Ukraine’s national grid operator imposed further restrictions in some regions because electricity usage had grown compared to the same time last week.