US, UK, France demand UN investigate Russia’s sanctions-busting use of Iranian drones in Ukraine

Jun 23, 2023, 1:11 PM

Ukrainian air defense intercepts a Shahed drone mid-air in the third Russia aerial attack on the ca...

Ukrainian air defense intercepts a Shahed drone mid-air in the third Russia aerial attack on the capital in the last 24 hours in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

(AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States, Britain and France demanded Friday that the United Nations urgently investigate Russia’s reported use of hundreds of Iranian-provided drones in the war in Ukraine, which would violate U.N. sanctions. But it’s unclear whether the U.N. will do so in the face of strong opposition from Russia.

Russia denies using the Iranian drones, despite widespread evidence that they have been used to attack Ukrainian cities.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield noted that the U.S. this month released further information documenting Iran’s provision of hundreds of unmanned aerial vehicles, known as UAVs or drones, as well as equipment that can be used in their production. Ukraine and the U.K. also submitted evidence to the United Nations of Iranian drones recovered by the Ukrainian military, she said.

“This is a matter of life or death for the Ukrainian people,” the U.S. ambassador told the U.N. Security Council after delivering the statement calling for an investigation, which also was signed by Albania and Ukraine.

The five countries accused Russia of violating the Security Council resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers, not only by procuring hundreds of Mohajer and Shahed drones by also by working with Iran to produce drones inside Russia.

The 2015 resolution prohibits all countries from transferring such weapons from Iran without advance Security Council approval, which was not given, the statement said.

“ Russia has been using these UAVs in recent weeks to strike Kyiv, destroy Ukrainian infrastructure, and kill and terrorize Ukrainian civilians,” the U.S. and its allies said. “The United Nations must respond to growing calls from the international community to investigate these violations.”

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the U.N. Secretariat, which is headed by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, is still analyzing information it received regarding “the alleged transfer of un-crewed aerial vehicles by Iran in a manner inconsistent” with the 2015 resolution.

He said a report expected soon from Guterres will be discussed this month by experts on the committee monitoring implementation of the resolution, and by the 15-member Security Council in July. Russia is one of five permanent members with veto power.

Thomas-Greenfield told reporters the resolution gives the secretary-general a mandate to open an investigation. Haq gave no indication of whether Guterres would do so.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council that Ukraine has not given Russia or Iran an “iota of credible evidence” about the use of Iranian drones.

“We hope that the secretary-general has sufficient wisdom not to be misled by our former Western partners,” Nebenzia said.

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US, UK, France demand UN investigate Russia’s sanctions-busting use of Iranian drones in Ukraine