EU warns Iran of further sanctions over suspected arms sales to Russia

EU member states have pledged their support for imposing new sanctions on Tehran if its military support for Russia’s war in Ukraine is demonstrated following the attacks on Kyiv allegedly using Iranian drones.

During talks on Monday, the bloc’s foreign ministers reached a consensus in principle on sanctioning Tehran for supplying Shahed 136 “kamikaze” drones to Moscow if it receives indisputable evidence they are being used against Ukraine, Kyiv has stressed.

Witnesses said the blasts, which hit the Ukrainian capital on Monday morning, were preceded by a humming noise resembling a noisy lawnmower engine, a description that suggests the Shahed 136 drones may have been used.

The Kyiv city state administration said 28 drones had been sent to attack the capital, five of which hit their targets, suggesting that Ukraine’s air defenses shot down many of them before they could do any damage.

“A large group of member states were in favor of sanctions,” Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra told the Financial Times after the Luxembourg meeting. “All the evidence or all the things we’ve seen clearly points to that [Iran’s] Participation.”

According to Ukrainian officials, Russia has increasingly used Iranian drones in recent weeks to attack infrastructure across Ukraine, sending them in swarms to make it more difficult for them to be attacked by Ukrainian air defenses.

“We are gathering evidence and are ready to respond with the tools at our disposal,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, said after Monday’s meeting, which included intelligence assessments of the attacks and a discussion of the bloc’s response.

“This [sanctions] Processes must be evidence-based. There is evidence, it was provided by the relevant intelligence agencies,” Borrell added. “Once all the evidence is available, and there is already a lot, I don’t think there will be any problems with future moves by member states.”

Scores of ministers at the meeting called for action against Iran, citing its “apparent” involvement in the war, according to two people familiar with the talks, adding that EU leaders could agree to take more at a summit later in the week to take steps .

Tehran has denied that its drones are used by Russia in the war.

Denmark’s Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod told reporters on Monday that the apparent use of Iranian drones to attack central Kyiv was “an atrocity,” adding that the EU must “react decisively.” . . and take concrete steps”.

France’s foreign ministry said last week that “a delivery of Iranian drones to Russia” would violate a 2015 UN Security Council resolution authorizing Iran’s nuclear deal with other global powers that lifted a series of economic sanctions against Tehran.

In Monday’s attacks, the white, V-shaped drones with payloads of up to 30 kg targeted buildings in central Kyiv, their noisy engines humming like what Ukrainian forces are now calling mopeds.

Ukraine’s air force said it shot down 15 of the kamikaze drones heading toward targets in the south and east of the country on Monday morning.

Allegations of Iranian military support for Russia and Western criticism of Tehran’s recent crackdown on protests threaten to further complicate diplomatic efforts to revive the nuclear deal.

Talks to revive the deal have been deadlocked for weeks, and the US and its European allies have accused Tehran of intransigence amid frustration that Iran failed to agree to a draft deal proposed by the EU in August.

The EU, which is mediating the US-Iran talks, has said the talks are being kept entirely separate from other bilateral issues, including sanctions, and have no bearing on the bloc’s actions.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers agreed on a new package of sanctions against 11 Iranian individuals and four entities linked to Tehran’s crackdown on protesters and the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last month in the custody of the country’s vice squad. EU warns Iran of further sanctions over suspected arms sales to Russia

Adam Bradshaw

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