White House Says Iran Helping Russia Build Drone Factory East of Moscow

White House Says Iran Helping Russia Build Drone Factory East of Moscow
This image provided by Maxar Technologies and released by the White House shows an industrial site several hundred miles east of Moscow where U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia, with Iran’s help, is building a factory to produce attack drones for use in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. (Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies via AP)

Iran is providing Russia with materials to build a drone manufacturing plant east of Moscow, according to a U.S. intelligence finding released by the White House on Friday.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that U.S. intelligence officials believe a drone plant in Russia’s Alabuga special economic zone could be operational early next year.

Located several hundred miles east of Moscow, the plant could provide the Kremlin with a steady supply of weaponry for its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The White House further released satellite images taken in April of what it believes to be the location where the plant “will probably be built.”

The Biden administration stated in December that it suspected Iran and Russia were considering building a drone assembly line for the war in Ukraine.

The new intelligence report suggests that the project has been greenlit, and construction is underway in the Yelabuga region of Tatarstan.

Supplying Drones

According to U.S. officials, Iran has continued to supply Russia with one-way attack drones made in Iran, shipped via the Caspian Sea, from Amirabad in Iran to Makhachkala, Russia, to be used in Ukraine.

Iran admitted that it had provided drones to Russia before the start of the war but denies having sent any since.

U.S. intelligence estimates that not only hundreds of operational one-way attack drones have been shipped from Iran to Russia since May, but drone-production-related equipment as well.

“This is a full-scale defense partnership that is harmful to Ukraine, to Iran’s neighbors, and to the international community,” Kirby said. “We are continuing to use all the tools at our disposal to expose and disrupt these activities, including by sharing this with the public—and we are prepared to do more.”

Additional guidelines would be announced to help businesses and other governments to avoid inadvertently contributing to Iran’s drone program as a follow-up to recent rules issued by the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom designed to cut off the flow of drone components to Russia and Iran.

Last month, the White House said Russia was looking to buy additional advanced attack drones from Iran after using up most of the 400 drones it had previously purchased from Tehran.

In October last year, Iran also agreed to sell Russia surface-to-surface missiles, but White House officials have said they do not have evidence that a deal was made.

Iran is seeking to purchase additional military equipment from Russia, including attack helicopters, radars, and YAK-130 combat trainer aircraft, the White House said. In April, Iran announced that it had finalized a deal to buy Su-35 fighter jets from Russia.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.



ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.