(CNSNews.com) – Russian and Iranian diplomats at the United Nations on Wednesday denied claims by Kyiv and its Western backers that the Kremlin is using Iranian-supplied combat drones in its war in Ukraine. But the Russian official also ruled out calls for independent U.N. monitors to be invited to the war zone to inspect the drones to ascertain their origin.
The U.N. Security Council held a closed meeting on the subject at the request of the U.S., Britain, and France, which contend that Tehran’s provision of the drones to Russia is a violation of Security Council resolution 2231, the 2015 measure that endorsed the Iran nuclear deal.
In a read-out on the closed meeting, U.S. Mission spokesman Nate Evans said “there is ample evidence that Russia is using Iranian-made UAVs in cruel and deliberate attacks against the people of Ukraine, including against civilians and critical civilian infrastructure.”
“By procuring these weapons in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions Russia continues to flout international law in its pursuit of a senseless and brutal war against Ukraine.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement the U.S. would not hesitate to use sanctions and other appropriate tools on those involved in the transfer of Iranian drones to Russia – even “[a]s Iran continues to lie and deny providing weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine.”
After the meeting, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the U.N., Dmitry Polyanskiy, told reporters outside the chamber that the Western countries were trying “to hit two targets at once, inventing an artificial pretext to put pressure on Russia and on Iran.”
He said the West was trying to divert the international community’s attention away from its “de facto engagement in the conflict in Ukraine,” while at the same time trying to put pressure on Iran “in line with its usual shameful practice.”
Polyanskiy noted that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that only Russian equipment, with “Russian names,” was being used in Ukraine.
The Russian forces have designated the Iranian-made Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drone as the Geran-2 (Geranium-2).
“I am not a drone expert, but weapons experts have looked at those and they say they look like Shahed-136, which is an Iranian drone,” a reporter told Polyanskiy. “Are they Russian drones of an Iranian design? Can you explain why they seem to look identical to the Iranian drones?”
Polyanskiy replied that he, too was not a drone expert, but “first of all, the press secretary of the president [Peskov] said that they are Russian-made. Secondly, when you see the debris on the ground after they have hit the targets, you would see inscriptions in Russian on the shell. So I don’t think that Russian is very much widely used in Iran.”
“If the allegations are wrong, then why are you opposed to inspectors going to see – U.N. independent inspectors – checking that they are not Iranian-made drones?” the reporter asked.
“Because they have no mandate to do so,” Polyanskiy said. “There is no sanctions committee.”
Polyanskiy said that the U.N. secretariat has “no mandate to investigate anything regarding Security Council resolution 2231.”
He warned that it engaged in any “illegitimate investigation,” then Russia “will have to reassess our collaboration with them, which is hardly in anyone’s interests.”
Asked to elaborate on the warning, Polyanskiy said, “You are an English speaker. I believe you know what ‘reassess’ means.”
“Reassess cooperation on all issues?” a reporter asked.
“It depends. But we hope they will abstain from making this irresponsible step.”
Iranian U.N. ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani also gave a statement to reporters, accusing the West of mounting “a disinformation campaign against Iran.”
“Iran categorically rejected unfounded and unsubstantiated claims that Iran has transferred UAVs for the use of the conflict in Ukraine.”
Iravani said Tehran supports efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and would “continue its constructive engagement” to that end.
After reading out his statement, he walked away from the stakeout microphone, ignoring reporters’ questions.
Ukrainian U.N. ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya earlier reportedly sent a letter to U.N. secretary general Antonio Guterres, inviting U.N. inspectors who monitor sanctions against Iran to visit Ukraine as soon as possible to examine drones recovered after strikes against Ukrainian targets.
Asked about Kyiv’s request, Guterres’ spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said the secretariat would study the letter.
“As a matter of policy, we are always ready to examine any information and analyze any information brought to us by member-states,” he said.