In a statement White House NSC coordinator John Kirby said, personnel from the Iranian military have gone to Crimea to assist Russian military pilots in using Iranian drones. As a result, the Iranian military is a direct participant of the Ukraine Russia war, said Kirby.
He went on to add, intelligence indicates a small number of Iranian military personnel are located in Crimea, with their primary purpose being to assist the Russian military in the use of Iranian loitering munitions which have high lethality.
He also expressed concern on claims that Moscow is preparing to arm itself with advanced Iranian missiles saying, “it is almost certain”.
Despite the direct involvement of the Iranians in the war, Kirby said, he believes this will not materially have any impact and will not change the course of the war.
However, the fact remains that the threat posed by Iranian drones are being taken seriously since Kirby also mentioned that Washington is looking at various options for air defense, which it may supply to Ukraine.
Attacks on critical infrastructure by “Iranian kamikazes” have been denied by Russia despite ever increasing evidence that is flooding social media networks.
On September 22, Russian armed forces had launched an attack against Ukrainian positions in Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast and field sources were able to capture the remnants of an Iranian drone, after the attack. Field sources released their photos on the web clearly showing them to be Iranian Shahed-136 loitering munition.
Incidentally, in the image that was shared by Ukrainian soldiers, the Iranian loitering munition had not exploded. Ukrainian forces have claimed that the attack was carried out primarily with this type of munition.
According to military sources, Iranian loitering munitions are successful, although they tend to malfunction frequently. Of note is the fact that while Ukrainian sources mention them to be successful, Russian armed forces have not mentioned them as such.
As of now, there is no clear and concrete information on the combat effectiveness of Iranian loitering munitions.
Earlier this year in July, reports had emerged that Moscow was preparing to buy Iranian drones. Washington has maintained that Iranian drones had entered service with the Russian armed forces and the relation between the countries are that of buyer and seller.
“The Iranian government is preparing to deliver to Russia several hundred UAVs, including unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying weapons, on an accelerated schedule,” said then Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser.
A report from the US intelligence had stated, “a plan has been drawn up between Russia and Iran to implement accelerated deliveries, whereby the new Iranian drones will temporarily strengthen Russian capabilities in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles”.
Ukrainian field sources have reiterated that such purchases (of Iranian drones) does not necessarily mean that Russia is experiencing difficulties in producing loitering munition of its own.
Unlike Iranian loitering munition, Ukrainian armed forces have had success against Russian drones.