WASHINGTON: Russia is considering sending fighter jets to Iran as part of an expanding military cooperation that has seen Tehran ship growing quantities of weaponry to Moscow for use in the invasion of Ukraine, the White House said on Friday.
“We believe that Russia might provide Iran unprecedented defence cooperation, including on missiles, electronics and air defense. We believe that Russia might provide Iran with fighter jets,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
Kirby said Russia and Iran were considering standing up a drone assembly line in Russia for the Ukraine conflict, while Russia was training Iranian pilots on the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter and Iran could receive deliveries of the plane within the year.
“These fighter planes will significantly strengthen Iran’s air force relative to its regional neighbours,” Kirby said.
The US allegations are part of a deliberate effort by the US to drive global isolation of Russia, in this case targeted at Arab nations who have looked to contain Iran’s regional malevolence and who have not taken a strong stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
As Russia’s military resources are being taxed by the Ukraine invasion and sanctions against it because of the war, Western powers are providing military equipment to Ukraine to defend itself, upping the cost to Putin, reminiscent of the draining of resources which occurred during the “Star Wars” competition between the US and the former Soviet Union, when Moscow saw its military coffers depleted.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration accused Saudi Arabia of siding with Russia in the conflict by shepherding cuts by the OPEC+ cartel to boost the price of oil, crucial to funding Moscow’s war effort. Saudi Arabia and Iran have been on opposite sides of a yearslong proxy war in Yemen.
Kirby said the arms transfers were in violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, and that the US would be “using the tools at our disposal to expose and disrupt these activities.”
Concerns about the “deepening and a burgeoning defense partnership” between Russia and Iran come as the Biden administration has repeatedly accused Iran of assisting Russia with its invasion of Ukraine.
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