Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanani has dismissed statements made by the CIA's director suggesting a Tehran-Moscow defense partnership could have a dangerous impact on Ukraine and the Middle East.
"The American propaganda campaign that is based on lies and deception serves various goals including the imposition of political pressure on Iran, the spreading of Iranophobia and the concealment of their own aggression," Kanani said on December 18, according to the foreign ministry's website.
He said that “cooperation between Iran and Russia in various fields, including defense cooperation, is expanding within the framework of common interests and in accordance with the international rights and obligations of the two countries and it poses no threat to a third-party country".
The spokesman described remarks by US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director William Burns as "baseless political claims", saying that American officials' allegations were in line with the "illegal measures" they had taken so far against Tehran.
Kanani’s remarks came in reaction to Burns' comments in an interview on 17 December, in which he said that the relationship between Tehran and Moscow was “already having an impact on the battlefield in Ukraine, again, costing the lives of a lot of innocent Ukrainians.”
Tehran has repeatedly been accused of supplying Russia with drones later used in the war in Ukraine, but Iran dismissed the allegations. Russia is believed to have used Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in Ukraine since mid-September.
Also called the Geranium-2 by Russia, the drones have explosives in a warhead on its nose that are designed to loiter over a target until it is instructed to attack. The Shahed-136 has a wingspan of about 2.5 meters and can be hard to detect on radar. Russia may be using these drones rather than cruise missiles because they are relatively cheap - costing about $20,000 each.
Russia was first reported to have used a Shahed-136 drone on September 13 when it attacked targets near Kupiansk, a city in the Kharkiv region in the east of Ukraine. Debris from the drones were found in Odesa and Mykolaiv. Ukraine's armed forces claimed on October 25 that they had shot down 223 Shahed-136 drones in the preceding 36 days, which is 85% of the total launched by Russia.
On the night of December 18-19, Russian troops attacked Ukraine with Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 kamikaze drones, 30 of which were destroyed by the Defense Forces.
According to the Ukrainian military, units of anti-aircraft missile forces, fighter aircraft, and mobile fire groups are involved in the destruction of air targets.
A spokesman for the Main Intelligence Directorate (HUR) of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on December 17 that Russia received a new consignment of Iranian Shahed-136 drones, which he described a smaller compared to the initial mass use of Shahed drones.
On December 12, the EU Council of Foreign Ministers adopted a resolution condemning Iran for supplying weapons to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine.