Tehran has accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of anti-Iranian propaganda in his call for Iran to halt the supply of kamikaze drones to Russia.
Foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said Saturday that Zelenskyy’s comments were designed to attract more arms and financial aid from the West.
Zelenskyy in a video address on Wednesday called on Iranians to stop their slide into "the dark side of history" by supplying Moscow with drones.
Tehran’s comments came during a week when Russia again used swarms of Iranian drones against civilian targets in Ukraine.
Russia has used hundreds of Iranian Shahed drones to target Ukraine’s civilian and military targets and to overwhelm air defenses during mass missile attacks.
Iran initially denied supplying Shahed drones to Russia but later said it had provided a small number before the conflict began. Ukraine says the drones have played a major role in Russia's attacks on cities and infrastructure.
"The Ukrainian president's repeat of delusional claims against the Islamic Republic of Iran is in line with the anti-Iranian propaganda and media war aimed at attracting as many arms and financial aid as possible from Western countries," Kanaani said in a statement carried by Iranian media.
Ukraine, Kanaani said, has been refusing to allow an independent investigation into these claims. However, Ukraine has displayed numerous parts of downed Iranian drones and even one complete example in intact shape.
Russia has boosted its military cooperation with Iran since the launch of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. It has admitted using Iranian-made drones, but it is now seeking to boost its own production.
In his Wednesday address, Zelenskiy said: "The simple question is this: what is your interest in being an accomplice to Russian terror?"
"Your Shaheds, which terrorize Ukraine every night, mean only that the people of Iran are being driven deeper and deeper into the dark side of history," he said.
Many Iranians on social media have criticized Zelenskyy for addressing “Iranians” rather than the Islamic Republic regime for supplying the drones to Russia. They highlighted that Iranians are also victims of the regime and they have actually helped Ukraine by staging anti-government protests throughout 2022 and 2023.
Western powers supporting Ukraine and supplying air defense systems have condemned Iran’s military cooperation with Russia. The United States, which has suspended nuclear talks with Iran has listed Tehran’s weapons supplies to Moscow as one of the issues preventing fresh talks.
Washington and its key European allies have also imposed sanctions on dozens of companies and individuals that they discovered assisting Iran’s drone program or involved in their shipment to Russia.
In response to a question by Iran International in February about reports that Iran has supplied new drones to Russia, State Department’s former spokesperson Ned Price said that the US has been warning about this expanding “two way” relationship since last year.
Price reiterated that “we are taking action to do everything we can to counter this relationship and to counter the transfer of technology…we have exposed this linkage and we are continuing to galvanize countries around the world to maintain focus on this.”
He went to characterize the alliance between Moscow and Tehran as a “profound threat to the people of Ukraine but also a security relationship that has the potential to be a threat way beyond.”
It was the US national security advisor Jake Sullivan who first warned in July 2022 that Iran was planning to supply military drones to Russia.