Exclusive: Russians have visited Iran at least twice in the past month to inspect combat-ready drones

Iran began showing Russia the Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones, also known as UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles, in June at the Kashan airfield south of Tehran, US officials told CNN. Both types of drones are capable of carrying precision-guided missiles.

“We have information that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with several hundred UAVs, including combat-ready UAVs,” Sullivan said in a statement to CNN.

“We estimate that an official Russian delegation recently received a demonstration of Iranian UAVs capable of attacking,” Sullivan added. “We are releasing these pictures taken in June showing the Iranian UAVs that the Russian government delegation saw that day. This indicates Russia’s continued interest in acquiring Iranian UAVs capable of attacking.”

Sullivan said that, to the best of the US knowledge, the June visit “was the first time a Russian delegation had visited this airfield for such a demonstration.” A Russian delegation again visited the airfield for a similar demonstration on July 5, officials said.

News comes when Biden completing his journey through the Middle East, where Iran has been a key point of discussion between the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. A US official told CNN that the growing partnership between Iran and Russia exemplifies why the US needs to maintain its presence and influence in the Middle East.
Biden stays under increasing pressure from Middle Eastern allies to develop a viable plan to contain Iran as hopes of a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal faded after negotiations in Doha, Qatar, last month.
White House officials said earlier this week that recently declassified US intelligence indicates that Iran is expected to supply Russia. with “hundreds” of drones for use in the war in Ukraine, with Iran preparing for start training Russian troops about how to operate them, already at the end of July.

Russia, the US now believes, has apparently turned to Iran for help in resupplying drones. However, it is not clear how sophisticated or effective these drones will be.

Earlier, Russia turned to China for help in supporting his war in Ukraine, US officials disclosed in March. As of late May, the US had seen no evidence that China provided any military or economic support to Russia for the invasion, Sullivan told reporters at the time.