UK defense secretary says Russia plans to boost military ties with Iran | Daily News Byte

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According to Britain’s defense secretary, Ben Wallace, Russia plans to deepen its military cooperation with Iran in return for the Shahed drones used to bomb Ukrainian cities and energy networks since September.

The West must hold Russia’s “enablers to account”, he said, as he was also forced to admit in a Christmas update that the UK had not completed the Ukraine “action plan” by the end of the year as promised.

Speaking to MPs, Wallace said: “In exchange for supplying more than 300 kamikaze drones, Russia now wants to provide advanced military components to Iran, undermining both the Middle East and international security.”

No other evidence was cited in support of Wallace’s statement, which is believed to be based on British intelligence, but is consistent with warnings from the US almost two weeks ago, when it said it was concerned the deal would go ahead.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, soon told MPs that while Russia remained the UK’s “number 1 foreign policy challenge”, he was “increasingly concerned about the behavior of Iran,” echoing Wallace’s comments.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Liaison Committee, which is made up of MPs who chair select committees, Sunak added that he focused on “the treatment of their citizens, what they are doing in a destabilizing region and indeed nuclear”. program”.

The West is closely monitoring Iran’s ties with Russia at a time when the Kremlin is desperate to make up for a munitions shortage. Moscow has also asked Tehran for ballistic missiles to continue its bombing of Ukraine, but there is no sign of that deal moving forward despite a request made last month.

The defense secretary said Russia is now “resorting to scrambling jetliners for spare parts” as it desperately tries to build fresh missiles. Ukraine estimates that its stockpile of Iskander missiles is at or below a ninth of pre-war levels.

Wallace also tried to emphasize to Russia the human and financial costs of its invasion. There were “more than 100,000 Russians” killed, wounded or displaced since February 24, the minister said, while Moscow’s army lost 4,500 armored vehicles and 140 aircraft and helicopters.

The depleted Russian air force was only “conducting ten missions a day against 300 in March” – but long-range strikes continue to target Ukraine’s power grid, the minister added, with a record 35 drone strikes in the country on Monday. .

However, after questioning by Labour’s John Healey, Wallace was also forced to admit that he had failed to publish an “action plan” to support Ukraine in 2023 that he had promised in August.

Intended to cover long-term equipment supplies, funding and other assistance to Kiev, the minister admitted that the failure to produce was disappointing. Instead, he said he hoped to see if it would be possible to debate the issue in parliament in January.

There was also public confirmation of Sunak’s plans to audit the UK’s Ukraine policy and its arms supplies, criticized by one source as amounting to a “Goldman Sachs dashboard” exercise that could prevent future military aid.

The defense secretary sought to play down its significance: “It’s understandable that the prime minister, being new in office, would want an update on Ukraine and a stock check on where we are.” Britain has already committed to match 2022’s £2.3bn worth of arms supplies to Ukraine in 2023.

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