The White House says Russian President Vladimir Putin's trip to Iran on July 19 shows how isolated Moscow has become in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.

John Kirby, the White House's chief National Security Council spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday, “I would say three things about this trip. One it shows the degree to which Mr. Putin and Russia are increasingly isolated. Now they have to turn to Iran for help.”

“Two, it shows the degree to which his own defense industrial base is having a hard time keeping up with his unprovoked war in Ukraine,” he went on, highlighting Russia’s troubles regarding precision guided munitions and advanced systems, tanks, even aircraft, particularly with the microelectronics due to the sanctions and export controls. He said the pace of operations in Ukraine has also become a challenge. 

Kirby said the third thing is Russia “has absolutely no intention of stopping the war” and negotiating a settlement with Ukraine, because he wants to buy several hundred UAVs from Iran “to continue to kill Ukrainians.” Putting prefers to turn to Iran rather than just doing the right thing... and ending the war, he added. 

However, Kirby said there is no indication yet that the sale has actually occurred, and that Iran has started training Russian forces to use armed drones, referring to remarks by Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Adviser, who said last week that Tehran planned to supply “several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs, on an expedited timeline.”

He said the US is watching the situation closely, as “the Iranians have a domestic production capability of drones and those drones have lethal capabilities. We've seen that for ourselves in the attacks that they have perpetrated in Iraq and in Syria against our own troops and against our own facilities there.”

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