Treasury levies sanctions over Iranian drones supplied to Russia

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Nov. 15 (UPI) — The U.S. Treasury Department issued sanctions Tuesday against multiple companies responsible for providing unmanned aerial vehicles to the Russian military for use in Ukraine.

The department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control slapped the designation on Shahed Aviation Industries Research Center, saying the firm is responsible for designing and producing UAVs being used in Ukraine by Russian forces.

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Earlier in November, Iran for the first time admitted it supplied drones to the Russian military but suggested the transfers took place before Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Against mounting evidence of Iranian drones being found and shot down on the Ukrainian battlefield, Tehran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, said his country provided Russia drones ahead of its invasion.

The OFAC sanctioned Dubai-based firms Success Aviation Services and Jet Global DMCC for helping to facilitate the transfer of the drones from Iran to Russia.

Also sanctioned were Russian private military contractor PMC Wagner and Iranian state-owned Qods Aviation Industries.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force faces the same sanctions. The force’s parent group, the larger Islamic Revolutionary Guard, has been designated as a terrorist organization since 2019.

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The drones, which are harder to shoot down by air defense systems because of their small size, have been effective in inflicting significant damage to power stations and other critical civilian infrastructure in Ukraine ahead of the cold winter season.

Additional sanctions were also levied against two individuals. The department contends Abbas Djuma and Tigran Khristoforovich Srabionov helped facilitate PMC Wagner’s acquisition of the UAVs from Iran.

“As we have demonstrated repeatedly, the United States is determined to sanction people and companies, no matter where they are located, that support Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Today’s action exposes and holds accountable companies and individuals that have enabled Russia’s use of Iranian-built UAVs to brutalize Ukrainian civilians,” Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said in a statement.

“This is part of our larger effort to disrupt Russia’s war effort and deny the equipment it needs through sanctions and export controls.”