Ukraine Downgrades Ties With Iran In Response To Iran Supplying Drones to Russia

On 23 September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced that Ukraine will downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran in response to Iran supplying Russia with drones. More specifically, Ukraine will revoke the accreditation of the Iranian ambassador to Ukraine and will significantly limit the number of diplomatic staff Iran is allowed to maintain in Kyiv and Ukraine.

According to the Ukrainians, Iranian-supplied drones are becoming more and more commonly encountered in the fight against Russia. Ukrainian forces claim to have downed eight Iranian drones so far, including smaller Shahed-136 loitering munition “kamikaze” UAVs and one larger Mohajer-6 drone which was reported to have been shot down off the coast of Odessa on the 23 Septemberd.

According to Zelensky during his Friday address:

“Six of these Iranian drones were downed by our air defenses of the East and South commands. One more was brought to ground by air defenses of the navy […] And just now I am being told about the downing by air defenses of the South command of another strike Iranian drone. […] In response to such an unfriendly act, the Ukrainian side has decided to deprive the ambassador of Iran of his accreditation and also to significantly reduce the number of diplomatic staff of the Iranian embassy in Kyiv.”

In spite of Western and Ukrainian accusations, as well as photographic evidence of the presence of Iranian drones in the skies over Ukraine, Tehran has continued to deny its role in supplying Russia with UAVs. In an official response, Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani criticized Zelensky’s “regrettable” decision as based on “unconfirmed reports” coming from foreign media sources. He said that Iran has remained neutral in the war and has actively attempted to help resolve the ongoing crisis by engaging both the Russian and Ukrainian sides through dialogue. Iran has said it will  â€śrespond appropriately” to the recent Ukrainian move but what this means in practice is not yet clear.