Russian weapons expert Ruslan Puhkov has accidentally told Russian TV that Iran is supplying the suicide drones being used in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin’s military chiefs have been unwilling to publicly acknowledge that Iranian-supplied drone technology is powering the Russian military’s relentless bombardment of the Ukrainian energy system.
Mr. Pukhov told the presenters: “We will not rock the boat much, so I ask you very much, strongly on these Iranians… because it’s a classic of stories – there is an ass, but there is no such a word.
“We all know that they are Iranian, but the authorities do not recognize,” continued the defense official.
BBC Eastern Europe correspondent Sarah Rainsford later explained on Twitter that the “ass” remark refers to an old Russian joke about a mother who tells her child there is no word for bum to stop them using the word, although they know there is one.
On Thursday, the United States reported that Iranian military personnel were on the ground in Crimea helping the Russian military operate drones provided by Tehran to conduct strikes across Ukraine, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday.
“We can confirm that Russian military personnel based in Crimea have been piloting Iranian UAVs and using them to conduct kinetic strikes across Ukraine, including in strikes against Kyiv in recent days,” Price said during a regular press briefing, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles.
“We assess that … Iranian military personnel were on the ground in Crimea and assisted Russia in these operations.”
The UK Government has sanctioned senior military figures and a firm it said were involved in the supply of Iranian drones to Moscow.
“Iran’s support for Putin’s brutal and illegal war against Ukraine is deplorable,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.
“Today we are sanctioning those who have supplied the drones used by Russia to target Ukrainian civilians.
“This is clear evidence of Iran’s destabilizing role in global security.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainians have endured power curbs including the first blackouts imposed by grid authorities since the war began on Thursday to allow the repair of infrastructure destroyed by Russian air strikes as Kyiv’s forces pressed on towards the city of Kherson.
Although Ukraine is advancing against Russian troops in the east and the south, it is struggling to protect power-generating facilities and other utilities from missile and drone strikes that appear designed to disrupt and demoralize as winter approaches.
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People across the country were urged to use less power as the government enforced nationwide curbs on electricity usage between 7 am and 11 pm, the first such restrictions since Russia’s February 24 invasion and including blackouts in some areas.
That followed a barrage of Russian attacks that President Volodymyr Zelensky said had struck a third of all power plants.
In the northeast region of Sumy some people went without water as in Kyiv grocery stores reported sales of bottled water picking up in preparation for possible shortages there.
Russia’s defense ministry said it was again targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure, a strategy it has stepped up since the appointment this month of Sergei Surovikin – nicknamed “General Armageddon” by the Russian media – as commander of what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.