Iran has become one of Russia’s top military backers as the Kremlin scrambles to obtain ballistic missiles and other weaponry to bolster its sagging invasion, the British Defense Ministry says in its latest assessment of the Ukraine war.
Russia’s unrelenting missile and drone attacks have authorities in Ukrainian cities struggling to provide electricity, running water and other basic services. The infrastructure issues and resulting rolling blackouts have become life-threatening, with winter temperatures routinely at or below freezing.
The U.S. and Britain say Russia already has been using Iranian attack drones, a claim Iran has denied. Russia most likely has used up a large proportion of its own short range ballistic missiles, the assessment says.
“If Russia succeeds in bringing a large number of Iranian ballistic missiles into service, it will likely use them to continue and expand its campaign of strikes against Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure,” the assessment warns.
In return for the weaponry, Russia is likely offering Iran an “unprecedented level of military and technical support” that is transforming the defense relationship between the two countries – both of which face U.S. sanctions – the assessment says.
►More than 13 million tons of grain have been shipped out of Ukraine via the Black Sea humanitarian corridor set up by the U.N., Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday. Erdogan said export of other food products also might be allowed soon.
►Germany said it will provide Ukraine with 470 power generators of various capacities as the invaded country of more than 40 million people struggles to provide electricity to its populace. And Norway announced a $100 million package to aid energy restoration.
RUSSIA IS MODERNIZING AND EXPANDINGits nuclear arsenal,’ US defense secretary says
Over 1.5 million people in Odesa without power
Russia attacked the Ukraine port city of Odesa with 15 drones Saturday night, knocking out power to more than 1.5 million people, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday. Ten drones were shot down, but still the damage was debilitating, he said. Engineers, repair crews and regional authorities were working non-stop to restore power, but he warned it will take multiple days to turn the lights back on. A similar attack a week ago also left the city cold and dark for days.
“The situation in the Odesa region is very difficult,” Zelenskyy said. “This is the true attitude of Russia towards Odesa, towards Odesa residents – deliberate bullying, deliberate attempt to bring disaster to the city.”
NOBODY IS ‘DOING BACKFLIPS’:White House defends Griner swap for Russian arms dealer Bout
White House: Russians were willing to free Griner but not Whelan
Paul Whelan was never offered by the Russians in the prisoner exchange that freed basketball player Brittney Griner for arms dealer Viktor Bout, Biden administration officials said Sunday. White House spokesman John Kirby said on Fox News Sunday that “it was never a choice posed by the Russians, ‘Well, hey, you give us Bout back and then you can decide whether you want Brittney or Paul.’ The Russians were only will to free Griner.”
Biden is facing backlash by Democratic and Republican lawmakers for agreeing to free Bout while the Russians continue to hold Whelan, an ex-marine arrested four years ago on espionage charges.
Roger Carstens, special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, said “this was a case that was either one or none.”
Contributing: Rebecca Morin and Ken Tran, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
Story Credit: usatoday.com