Ukraine to cut ties with Iran over ‘unfriendly’ drones to Russia

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(Reuters) – Ukraine said on Friday it would downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran and strip the ambassador of his accreditation over what it called Tehran’s “unfriendly” decision to supply Russian forces with drones.

Earlier in the day, Ukraine said it had shot down four Iranian-made “kamikaze” drones, prompting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to complain that Tehran was harming Ukrainian sovereignty and its citizens.

Ukraine and the US have accused Iran of supplying drones to Russia, something Tehran has denied.

“Supplying Russia with weapons to wage war against Ukraine is an unfriendly act that deals a serious blow to Ukraine-Iran relations,” a statement on the State Department’s website said.

“In response to such an unfriendly act, the Ukrainian side has decided to deprive Iran’s ambassador of his accreditation and also to significantly reduce the number of diplomatic staff at the Iranian embassy in Kiev.”

The message was delivered to the Acting Ambassador, as the Permanent Envoy, Manouchehr Moradi, is not in Ukraine at the moment.

Military authorities in southern Ukraine said in a statement that they had shot down Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles over the sea near the port of Odesa.

Military experts say the drones would be useful to Russia for both reconnaissance and as hovering munitions that can spend time locating and attacking suitable targets.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren Editing by Mark Potter and Alistair Bell)

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