Hossein Salami
Hossein Salami Reuters

The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on the chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, its Aerospace Force and a company making drones that the bloc says have been used by Russia in its war against Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

In a statement, the EU said it was targeting Revolutionary Guard chief Gen. Hossein Salami because the corps “supervises the development of Iran’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) program as well as the transfer of UAVs abroad.”

The bloc also slapped sanctions on the Revolutionary Guard’s Aerospace Force and commanding general, saying that the Shahed-136 and Mohajer-6 drones they have allegedly supplied “are used by the Russian Federation in the war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Qods Aviation Industries, which makes Mohajer-6 drones, was also listed “for supporting materially actions which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine”, according to AP.

In July, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the US had intelligence indicating that Russia is looking to Iran for UAVs.

He indicated at the time that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with several UAVs for use in Ukraine, and train Russian forces to use these UAVs.

A month later, it was reported that Iran had begun training Russians to use its drones, though it was also noted that Russia is experiencing “numerous failures” and technical glitches with the drones it purchased from Iran.

In September, Ukraine reported the first Russian attacks carried out using Iranian-made drones, targeting the south of the country, including the strategic city of Odessa on the Black Sea.

At the start of October, Iranian-made drones were also reportedly used in an attack in the Ukrainian town of Bila Tserkva, southwest of the capital Kyiv.

US officials have said that Iran sent trainers to Ukraine to help Russians overcome problems with the fleet of drones that they purchased from Tehran.

Last week, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, acknowledged for the first time that his country gave drones to Russia, saying that the deliveries happened before the war started. Iranian officials had previously denied sending any drones to Russia.

The foreign minister said Iran does not know about how the drones are being used in Ukraine. Tehran has maintained that it is officially neutral in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy later said in an address to the Ukrainian people that he knows Iran’s claims are false.