Russia has begun training on drones in Iran, US says

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Russia has begun training on drones in Iran, US says

The US believes Russian officials have begun training on drones in Iran over the last few weeks, the latest indication that Russia intends to purchase the systems as the war continues in Ukraine.

During the last several weeks Russian officials conducted training in Iran as part of the agreement for UAV transfers from Iran to Russia, a US official told CNN.com. The intelligence about the training was recently declassified, according to the official.

CNN reached out to the Russian Embassy in Washington for comment. Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman, said last month that Russia had no comments on the matter when asked by reporters about the drones.

Iran showed off the Shahed 191 and Shahed 129 drones, also known as UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles, to Russia in Kashan Airfield south of Tehran in June, US officials told CNN.com. Both types of drones are capable of carrying precision-guided missiles. In July, Sullivan said the US believes Iran intends to sell Russia hundreds of drones that Russia can use in its war in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military has mainly been using Turkish-built Bayraktar UAVs to destroy Russian command posts, tanks and surface-to-air missile systems, while the Russians have been using homemade Orlan 10 drones for reconnaissance and electronic warfare. The Russians have struggled to replenish their supply, leading them to turn to Iran for the equipment, according to the US believes. The growing relationship between Iran and Russia is exemplified by the fact that the US needs to maintain its presence and influence in the Middle East, according to US officials. Ukraine has pleaded with the US to provide more powerful armed drones like the Gray Eagle, but the US has been reluctant to provide them for fear that Russia could view it as overly escalatory.