US sanctions firms over Iranian drone transfers to Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. said Tuesday it is imposing new sanctions on firms and entities accused of being involved in the transfer of Iranian drones to Russia for use in Vladimir Putin's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The move comes after Iranian officials earlier this month acknowledged that they had transferred drones to Moscow.

The penalties and diplomatic restrictions come as part of the most recent effort by the United States to disrupt Russia’s military supply chain and procurement network. They also cut at the growing relationship between Russia and Iran, two politically and economically isolated nations.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control said it was designating Shahed Aviation Industries Research Center, which the U.S. says designs and produces drones used by Russian forces in Ukraine, and several firms that are said to facilitate the transfer of Iranian drones to Russia.

The State Department is also designating a Russian private military company, PMC Wagner, and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force and Qods Aviation Industries for diplomatic sanctions.

In October, Ukraine accused Iran of violating a U.N. Security Council ban on the transfer of drones capable of flying 300 kilometers. This month, Iran’s foreign minister acknowledged for the first time that his country has supplied Russia with drones, insisting the transfer came before Moscow’s war on Ukraine that has seen the Iranian-made drones divebombing Kyiv.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement that the U.S. “is determined to sanction people and companies, no matter where they are located, that support Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine.”

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

In October, representatives from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that Russia had lost more than 6,000 pieces of equipment since the beginning of the war and was turning to Iran and North Korea for supplies.