EU slaps sanctions on Iran drone maker, military officers

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Thursday imposed sanctions on Shahed Aviation Industries in Iran and three Iranian armed forces generals for undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity by helping to supply drones to Russia to use in the war against its neighbor.

Ukraine’s Western-reinforced air defenses are making it difficult for Russian warplanes to operate, and killer drones are a cheap weapon that can seek out and destroy targets while spreading fear among troops and civilians. Russia is accused of sending waves of Iranian-made Shahed drones over Ukraine to strike power plants and other key infrastructure.

In response, the EU imposed an asset freeze on the company, as well as an asset freeze and travel ban on the three officers, who are also suspected of links to Iran’s drone program.

EU headquarters said in a statement that the move “is a signal of the EU’s resolve to respond swiftly and decisively to Iran’s actions supporting Russian aggression against Ukraine. The EU condemns the delivery of Iranian drones to Russia and their deadly deployment in the war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Iran on Thursday denied as “baseless” accusations it was sending missiles and drones to Russia for Russian forces to use in the invasion of Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Twitter that he has spoken on the phone with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on the issue.

Amirabdollahian said that “we have defense cooperation with Russia, but without a doubt, sending weapons and drones against Ukraine is not our policy.”

Earlier this week, EU foreign ministers agreed to slap sanctions on Iranian’s morality police as well as 11 officials, including the information minister, over the security crackdown on anti-government protesters.

EU officials say the 27-nation bloc is determined to push ahead with sanctions in areas like human rights and the war in Ukraine despite the likelihood that such measures could inflame tensions with Tehran as the Europeans struggle to revive the international agreement aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

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