The visit comes as Western and Ukrainian officials warn that Russia is trying to secure high-tech Iranian missiles and drones to deploy on the battlefield.
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People protesting outside Iran’s Embassy in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, after Russia used Iranian-supplied explosive drones to attack the center of the city last month.Credit…Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times
The Kremlin’s top security adviser arrived in Tehran late Tuesday amid growing signs that advanced Iranian weapons are being used on Ukrainian battlefields.
Russian and Iranian state news agencies described a visit by Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia’s National Security Council, as a routine trip to discuss joint projects.
“In Tehran, Patrushev will hold regular Russian-Iranian security consultations,” read a report by Russia’s state-run TASS news agency.
Mr. Patrushev, a hardline ally of President Vladimir V. Putin, is the latest senior Russian official to visit Iran since the start of the war. His visit comes as Western and Ukrainian officials warn that Russia is trying to secure Iranian precision-guided missiles and drones to lift its flagging military fortunes in Ukraine.
The prolonged war has decimated Russia’s weapon stocks, forcing it to turn to its few remaining allies, such as Iran and North Korea, to try countering the flood of Western military hardware to Ukraine, these officials said. Last week, the Pentagon claimed that North Korea is covertly supplying a “significant number” of artillery shells to Russia. North Korea has denied the reports.
For its part, Iran has indicated that it planned to sell ballistic missiles to Russia. It has also denied selling attack drones since the start of the war, though the wreckage of them has now been found many times in Ukraine, and social media accounts associated with the Iranian security services have boasted of their use there.
Ukrainian officials claim that advanced Western air-defense systems have allowed them to partly neutralize Russian rockets and drones, but they warn that they have little defense against Iranian ballistic missiles.
Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s defense intelligence directorate, has said delivery of Iranian missiles could happen by the end of November.
“It’s a serious threat because Iranian missiles, unlike Russian ones, are quite high-precision, very high-speed, and those features have been battle-proven,” he said in a recent interview with the War Zone, an online publication focused on military matters.
Iranian weapons have played a large role in Tehran’s proxy conflicts in Yemen and Syria, raising fears that its growing involvement in Ukraine could heighten tensions with Washington.
“When we see Iranian ballistic missiles being employed on the battlefield in Ukraine, we will do what we can to illuminate that,” a Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, said on Tuesday.