Iran will respond “proportionately” to Ukraine’s downgrade of relations

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Sept 24 (Reuters) – Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Saturday that Iran was planning “relative action” in response to Ukraine’s decision to downgrade diplomatic ties over the alleged supply of Iranian drones to Russia.

Nasser al-Kinani said in a statement to the ministry that Ukraine should “refrain from being influenced by third parties seeking to destroy relations between the two countries.”

Ukraine said on Friday it would withdraw the Iranian ambassador’s accreditation and drastically reduce the number of diplomatic staff at the Iranian embassy in Kyiv over Tehran’s decision to provide Russian forces with drones, in a move President Volodymyr Zelensky called “cooperation with evil.”

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Al-Kinani said that Ukraine’s decision “was based on unconfirmed reports and was caused by a media frenzy by foreign parties.”

He did not refer directly to the drones. Iran has previously denied supplying Russia with drones, but the hard-line daily Kayhan said on Saturday that “hundreds of armed drones” had been sold.

“For some time, Iranian drones have been carrying out operations in the skies of Ukraine against NATO,” said the newspaper, whose head was appointed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Military authorities in southern Ukraine said on Saturday that they had shot down at least seven Iranian drones, including six Shahed-136 “Kamikaze” aircraft over the sea near the ports of Odessa and Bivdnyi on Friday.

Military Southern Command said these include – for the first time in Ukraine – the Muhajir-6, a larger Iranian drone.

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Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Mikhailo Podolak, said in an English-language tweet on Saturday that Iran supports Russia “by providing modern drones to (a) underdeveloped country to kill Ukrainians.”

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Coverage from the newsroom in Dubai and Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Frances Kerry and Peter Graf

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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