JEDDAH: Iran faces a raft of new European sanctions for supplying Russia with deadly “kamikaze” drones to attack Ukraine.
Sanctions experts from the 27-member EU bloc agreed on Wednesday to blacklist Iranian drone manufacturer Shahed Aviation Industries, along with two senior military commanders and Brig. Gen. Saeed Aghajani, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officer who oversees Iran’s drone program.
The sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, are expected to be approved by EU governments on Thursday. “On the drone question, indeed there are new listings under preparation that should be adopted during the week,” French President Emmanuel Macron’s spokesman said on Wednesday.
“If Iran walks like a duck, talks like a duck and admits to supplying drones to the biggest duck in the world then I think we have enough evidence to say that Iran is a duck. Let’s sanction the duck out of them,” Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said.
Ukraine has been hit by a wave of attacks by Shahed-136 suicide drones targeting civilians and energy infrastructure. Its military said on Wednesday they had shot down more than 220 of the Iranian-made weapons since the first one on Sept. 13.
A Russian missile strike hit a thermal power station in the city of Burshtyn in western Ukraine on Wednesday, the latest in a wave of attacks on critical infrastructure that have disabled nearly a third of the country’s electricity generating capability just before winter.
The US, Britain and France will raise the issue of Iranian arms transfers to Russia at a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday. Western powers regard the export and purchase of drones as a violation of resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, Israel offered on Wednesday to help Ukrainians develop air attack alerts for civilians. Though it has condemned the Russian invasion, Israel has limited its Ukraine assistance to humanitarian relief.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Israel had asked Ukraine “to share information about their needs for air defense alerts,” and Israel would be able to “assist in the development of a lifesaving civilian early warning system.”
Israel has a radar network that sets off sirens or cellphone alerts to warn citizens to take cover when missiles are launched. Similar early warning technologies could be on offer to Ukraine, a spokesperson for Israel’s Defense Ministry said.