As published by Politico by ALEXANDER WARD, MATT BERG and LAWRENCE UKENYE
With help from Stuart Lau, Daniel Lippman and Phelim Kine
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Officials on both sides of the Atlantic are weighing how to punish Iran for planning to give missiles and more drones to Russia.
Our own NAHAL TOOSI spoke to a U.S. official Monday who said the administration is “absolutely going to sanction anybody who’s helping Iranians help Russians kill Ukrainians.” Export controls would almost certainly be part of any reprimand.
A National Security Council spokesperson also told NatSec Daily that “we will continue to vigorously enforce all U.S. sanctions on both the Russian and Iranian arms trade, make it harder for Iran to sell these weapons to Russia, and we will stand with our partners throughout the region against the Iranian threat. We are also working with allies and partners, including at the United Nations, to address Iran’s dangerous proliferation of weapons to Russia. And we’ll continue to surge unprecedented security assistance to Ukraine, including air defense and working with allies to enable transfer of air defense systems of their own to Ukraine.”
The Iran case is a test for the administration’s new policy, announced Friday, that the U.S. can “use its broad targeting authorities against non-U.S. persons that provide ammunition or other support to the Russian Federation’s military-industrial complex.” In other words, if Tehran continues to help Moscow, then a slew of economic penalties could, and likely will, be placed on the Islamist regime.
That’s an appropriate course of action, MICK MULROY, a former top Pentagon official for the Middle East and CIA officer, told NatSec Daily. He added that “possible increased activity from my old organization” — the CIA — would also send a clear signal to Iran.
It’s unclear if the sanctions and export controls would have the desired effect on Tehran, he said, but they could certainly sting a regime that is reeling from massive protests. The punishments might work “if they felt that they need to focus more domestically and not get further outside the international community with more sanctions.”
Europe, meanwhile, is set to impose sanctions if it finds the evidence of Iranian drones being used in Ukraine.
“We are following very closely this use of drones. We are gathering evidence. And we will be ready to react with the tools at our disposal,” JOSEP BORRELL, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, told reporters Monday.
What sure look like Iranian-made drones have proven destructive over the last two days.
More than two dozen suicide drones struck Kyiv on Monday, killing four people, setting buildings ablaze and striking energy facilities, the Associated Press’ SABRA AYRES and HANNA ARHIROVA report.
Kyiv Mayor VITALI KLITSCHKO said the attack came in successive waves of 28 drones — which appeared to include Iranian-made Shaheds — though most Russian airstrikes have been in the form of missiles. And as the Financial Times’ CHRISTOPHER MILLER pointed out: YURIY IGNAT, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Air Force, said Russia launched 43 kamikaze drones from the south to attack Ukraine since Sunday evening, with air defenses successfully destroying 37 of them.
The switch in weaponry suggests Moscow may be attempting to preserve its depleting arsenal of long-range precision missiles.
“Our Ukrainian friends have stated that today’s attacks [were] by drones, by Iranian-made drones, then in that context, I think the immediate sanction to these … activities of Iran should be immediately implemented,” Estonian Foreign Minister URMAS REINSALU told our own STUART LAU.
The barrage of drones on Kyiv came a day after the Kremlin blamed Ukraine for a missile attack on the mayor’s office in Donetsk, which is held by separatists. There were no reports of casualties, and Ukraine did not claim responsibility.