Firefighters conduct work after a Russian attack targeted energy infrastructure in Kyiv on October 18. Iran admitted for the first time he provided Russia with drones that have been used in many of the attacks. Photo courtesy of State Emergency Service of Ukraine | License Photo
Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Iran for the first time admitted it has supplied drones to the Russian military but suggested the transfers took place before Moscow invaded Ukraine.
Against mounting evidence of Iranian drones being found and shot down on the Ukrainian battlefield, Tehran's foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, said his country provided Russia drones ahead of its invasion.
The drones, which are harder to shoot down by air defense systems because of their small size, have been effective in inflicting significant damage to power stations and other critical civilian infrastructure in Ukraine ahead of the cold winter season.
"Some western countries have accused Iran of helping the war in Ukraine by providing drones and missiles to Russia," Amir-Abdollahian said in Tehran. "The part regarding missiles is completely wrong. The part about drones is correct, we did provide a limited number of drones to Russia in the months before the start of the war in Ukraine."
Meanwhile, Ukraine's national energy utility said on Saturday it is setting up contingency plans to operate without reliable sources of power because of the Russia campaign. Local governments have been taking steps on how to respond to any extended loss of power.
One of those scenarios includes orderly evacuations from Kyiv if the entire city loses power and is unable to operate essential services for long stretches. This comes as Western allies promised to step up efforts to help Ukraine get such services up and running again in short periods of time.
"We understand that if Russia continues such attacks, we may lose our entire electricity system," said Roman Tkachuk, the director of security for Kyiv's government. "That's why we are preparing for a cold winter."
The British Defense Ministry said Saturday that Russia has started to add up to 120,000 personnel to the Ukraine conflict zone this month. The ministry warned, though, the soldiers have been forced to the battlefield with little training because they lack trainers.
That has limited the effectiveness of the additional Moscow group against battle-hardened and motivated Ukrainians.