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Ukrainian military intelligence on Tuesday said Iran is planning to send more than 200 combat drones to Russian forces, including Iran's new combat drone, the Arash-2.
Defense Intelligence of Ukraine, part of the defense ministry, said "a batch of more than 200 combat drones Shahed-136, Mohajer-6 and Arash-2 is planned to be sent from Iran to the Russian Federation at the beginning of November."
The intelligence agency said in a post on Telegram that the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles "will be delivered via the Caspian Sea to the port of Astrakhan."
The agency said the drones are being shipped in a disassembled state and once inside Russian territory, "they will be collected, repainted and applied with Russian markings."
The intelligence agency did not specify how it obtained the information on the shipments and CNN cannot independently verify the details.
But it echoes reporting by CNN on Tuesday, citing officials from a western country that closely monitors Iran's weapons program, that Iran was preparing a large shipment of drones and ballistic missiles to Russia.
Any Russian deployment of the Arash-2 drone to the war in Ukraine could put further pressure on the country's already challenged air defenses.
Since Sept. 13, when the Russians first used attack drones against Ukraine, the country's air defense forces say they have shot down more than 300 attack drones — but dozens have managed to strike their targets and destroy vital energy infrastructure.
Some background: CNN's Clarissa Ward said the deployment of the Arash-2 has the potential to be a "big game changer" in the war in Ukraine as it "can carry five times the explosives of the Shahed."
The existence of the Arash-2 was first revealed in 2019 but its precise capabilities remain unknown. The drone is named after Arash the Archer, a heroic figure from Iranian mythology who had the strongest shot with an arrow. Legend has it he fired an arrow that flew an entire morning and fell at noon over 2250 kilometers away. When Arash let his bow go, he is said to have fallen to the ground and passed away.
Ukraine's military has accused Russian-installed officials in the southern region Kherson of spreading misinformation to coerce civilians to leave the region in a forced evacuation, a war crime.
In a statement on Tuesday, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said, "The occupiers continue the forced displacement of civilians in the temporarily occupied territories of Kherson region."
"The enemy resorts to intimidation of civilians, spreading misinformation about a possible explosion of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam," the statement said.
The Ukraine armed forces explained that the local population in Kherson has been "deprived of means of communication," and are unable to get an accurate picture of what is really happening in the war.
Earlier in the week, Russian-installed officials announced a new evacuation from Kherson region of Ukraine, saying they are taking civilians to safety because of the risk Ukraine might use unconventional weapons.
"Due to the possibility of the use of prohibited methods of war by the Ukrainian regime, as well as information that Kyiv is preparing a massive missile strike on the Kakhovka hydroelectric station, there is an immediate danger of the Kherson region being flooded," Vladimir Saldo, Russian-installed head of occupied Kherson province, said in a video message Monday.
Ukraine has categorically denied the allegation that it intends to blow up the dam and flood the area.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Kadri Simson, the European Commission's top energy official in Kyiv on Tuesday.
Zelensky thanked Simson for her visit to Ukraine at a time when the energy infrastructure of the country is "under massive attack" by Russian missiles and drones, a statement from the Office of the President of Ukraine said.
The two discussed further steps to ensure Ukraine's energy security amid Russia's ongoing missile and drone attacks that have resulted in about 40% of Ukraine's entire energy infrastructure of being seriously damaged.
Zelensky spoke in detail about Ukraine's needs to restore energy infrastructure and called on the European Commission to play a coordinating role in attracting assistance from EU member states, according to the statement.
Zelensky also noted the role of Simson in helping Ukraine to join the European energy grid ENTSO-E, which, prior to the Russian invasion, saw Ukraine actually exporting energy to Europe.
"Unfortunately, due to the strikes of missiles and kamikaze drones by the Russian Federation on our energy system, we have suspended this process," Zelensky said. "But I am sure that we will restore everything, and in a calmer time, when the situation in our energy system will be stabilized, we will continue exporting electricity to Europe."
The United States will “use every relevant and appropriate tool in our toolkit to expose, to confront, to counter” Iran’s provision of weapons to Russia, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday.
Speaking at a State Department briefing, Price said the US has “taken aim at Iran's UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) proliferation networks over the course of months now,” and “we are always looking at targets that may be appropriate for this sort of response, sanctions, other, other financial measures.”
“We are concerned that Russia may also seek to acquire advanced conventional weapons from Iran, such as surface to surface missiles that will almost certainly be used to support Russia's war against Ukraine,” Price said.
The spokesperson added the US will "vigorously" enforce all sanctions on both Russian and Iranian arms trade "to make it harder for Iran to sell these weapons to Russia."
CNN reported Tuesday that Iran is preparing to send approximately 1,000 additional weapons, including surface-to-surface short range ballistic missiles and more attack drones, to Russia.
Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations have agreed to not plan for any ship movements in the Black Sea grain corridor on Wednesday, according to a statement from the UN Secretariat at the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul on Tuesday.
UN and Turkish teams on Tuesday carried out 36 inspections aboard outbound vessels, according to the statement. They attempted to inspect another two ships, but the process was cut short because of “issues related to fumigated cargo,” the statement said. The inspection reports would be shared with Ukrainian and Russian delegation, it added.
“The UN Secretariat reiterates that movements and inspections carried out after the Russian Federation suspended its participation in implementation activities at the Joint Coordination Centre is a temporary and extraordinary measure,” according to the statement.
The JCC said earlier today that three ships had left Ukrainian ports Tuesday, despite Russia's decision to suspend its participation in the arrangement on Saturday.
CNN's Tim Lister contributed reporting to this post.
The Pentagon has concerns that Russia may seek additional advanced weapons from Iran to use in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, according to Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder.
“We do have concerns that Russia may also seek to acquire additional advanced munition capabilities from Iran, for example, surface-to-surface missiles, to use in Ukraine,” Ryder told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon Tuesday.
CNN reported earlier Tuesday Iran is preparing to send approximately 1,000 additional weapons, including surface-to-surface short range ballistic missiles and more attack drones, to Russia to use in its war against Ukraine.
Iran has provided Russia with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and the Pentagon expects Russia will “likely seek more of those” from Iran, Ryder added.
Russia seeking to obtain weapons from Iran is “indicative” of the two countries’ “continued collusion to attack Ukrainians,” Ryder said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that the country's mobilization had been “completed” and that “the line has been drawn,” a suggestion that there would be no further drafts.
In recent months, he has defended the draft while its chaotic execution led to angry demonstrations and prompted hundreds of thousands to flee Russia.
Putin announced the mobilization in late September after Russia suffered a series of major setbacks on the battlefields in Ukraine. Officials said the draft’s target of recruiting 300,000 personnel had been met as of last week.
The rollout of the mobilization was beset by errors. Early on in the process, some residents in areas including Russia’s Far East Sakha Republic were conscripted “by mistake” despite not being eligible for mobilization, such as fathers of underage children, according to a local leader there.
Since it was announced, protests have erupted in ethnic minority regions, and some military enlistment offices have been set on fire. The original announcement also sparked rare anti-war demonstrations across Russia.
The country was forced to heighten security measures at military registration and enlistment offices “due to increasing attacks” on those facilities, a senior Russian official said in a previous CNN report.
Countless Russians have fled the country as a result of the partial mobilization. More than 200,000 people traveled from Russia into Georgia, Kazakhstan and the European Union in just the first week, collective data from those regions showed.
“I was angry and afraid,” Vadim, who left Russia for Kazakhstan with his grandmother after the announcement, told CNN this month. “We don’t want this war … we can’t change something in our country, though we have tried.”
And the benefits of the mobilization have also been questionable, according to experts. It is unclear whether the influx of newly-trained recruits has had any impact in ground fighting in eastern and southern Ukraine, where Kyiv has seen gains in recent weeks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a phone call that any resumption of the grain deal can be considered only after an investigation into the Sevastopol drone attack, according to a readout by the Kremlin Tuesday.
According to the statement, a resumption of the deal can be considered only after “a detailed investigation into the circumstances of this incident, and also after receiving from Kyiv real guarantees of strict observance of the Istanbul agreements, in particular, on the non-use of the humanitarian corridor for military purposes.”
The two leaders held a phone call Tuesday following Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in the United Nations-brokered grain export deal with Ukraine over the weekend after alleging drone attacks on the Crimean city of Sevastopol. Ukraine has not commented on the drone attacks against Sevastopol.
On Saturday, a top Ukrainian official accused Russia of inventing “fictitious terrorist attacks” on its own facilities and blamed Moscow of “blackmail” in suspending the grain deal.
According to the Turkish presidency, Erdogan told Putin he was confident that “solution-oriented cooperation” could be established regarding the grain deal.
Ankara would “continue to take the necessary initiatives with all parties for the resolution of the problems with regard to the implementation of the Istanbul Agreement on grain shipment,” the Turkish presidency said in a tweet.
“Voicing his confidence that they will establish solution-oriented cooperation on this issue, President Erdogan said that if they resolve the grain crisis with a constructive approach, they will also have encouraged steps for returning to negotiations,” the presidency added.