Russia plans to deepen its military cooperation with Iran in return for Shahed drones that have been used to bomb Ukraine’s cities and energy network since September, according to Britain’s defence secretary, Ben Wallace.
The west must hold Russia’s “enablers to account”, he said, in a Christmas update in which he was also forced to admit the UK had not completed a Ukraine “action plan” by the end of the year as promised.
Speaking to MPs, Wallace said: “In return for having supplied more than 300 kamikaze drones, Russia now intends to provide Iran with advanced military components, undermining both Middle East and international security.”
No other evidence was cited in support of Wallace’s statement, which is likely to be based on British intelligence, but it is consistent with warnings made by the US nearly two weeks ago, when it said it was concerned a deal would go ahead.
The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, told MPs shortly afterwards that while Russia remained the UK’s “No 1 foreign policy challenge” he was “increasingly concerned about Iran’s behaviour,” an echo of Wallace’s comments.