UK Sanctions Iran over kamikaze Russian drones

  • British actions target shipments of Russian drones used to attack civilian targets and critical infrastructure in Ukraine
  • Today’s sanctions target Iranians responsible for supplying kamikaze drones to Russia
  • The procurement is further evidence of Iran’s destabilizing role in global security and a clear violation of a UN Security Council resolution

The UK is today (20 October) introducing new sanctions against Iranian individuals and companies responsible for supplying Russia with kamikaze drones to be used to bomb Ukraine.

Russia uses the drones to attack civilian targets as well as critical infrastructure in Kyiv and across Ukraine, with the intention of cutting off the Ukrainian population from energy, heating and water.

By supplying these drones, Iran is actively promoting warmongering, benefiting from Russia’s heinous attacks on Ukrainian citizens, and contributing to human suffering and the destruction of critical infrastructure. Both Russia and Iran are violating a UN Security Council resolution governing the transfer of these weapons from Iran.

Secretary of State James Cleverly said:

Iran’s support for Putin’s brutal and illegal war against Ukraine is deplorable. Today we are sanctioning those who supplied the drones used by Russia to target Ukrainian civilians. This is clear evidence of Iran’s destabilizing role in global security.

These cowardly drone attacks are an act of desperation. By facilitating these strikes, these individuals and a manufacturer have caused untold suffering to the people of Ukraine. We will make sure they are held accountable for their actions.

Today’s sanctions target individuals and companies personally responsible for providing the drones used in these barbaric attacks. They are:

  • Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri – the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces who has overseen the army branches supplying drones to Russia. Bagheri is subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban
  • Brigadier General Seyed Hojjatollah Qureishi – the key Iranian negotiator in the deal that supplied Iran-made drones to Russia. Qureishi is subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban
  • Brigadier General Saeed Aghajani – the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, the UAV Command of the Aerospace Forces – the IRGC is said to have been in the temporarily controlled areas of Ukraine to assist Russian forces advised use the drones. Aghajani is subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban.
  • Shahed Aviation Industries – the Iranian manufacturer of the Shahed drones used by Russia during its illegal invasion of Ukraine. Shahed Aviation Industries is subject to an asset freeze.
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The procurement of these weapons shows that Russia, out of desperation, is turning to countries like Iran to continue its illegal war.

Open-source evidence has shown that Russia’s own defense company and drone maker Kronshtadt have been struggling to keep production going since their sanctions (March 24, 2022), with refrigerators and dishwashers cannibalized to make military gear and Soviet-era tanks also sent to the front lines while struggling to maintain their military equipment.

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The UK has previously named nearly 300 Iranian individuals and organizations for their role in arms proliferation, human rights abuses and terrorism. These include those involved in Iran’s drone program, including the Iran Defense Ministry’s Armed Forces Logistics and the Iran Aviation Industries Organization and its subsidiaries, including Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Company and the Qods Aviation Industry, as well as individuals including Amir Hajizadeh, the commander the IRGC Aerospace Force.

Iran boasts one of the largest and most diverse drone and missile arsenals in the Middle East and continues to increase the sophistication, range and accuracy of its weapon systems. It also has a long-standing track record of proliferating drones, missiles, and missile technology, including to non-state actors. The missiles and drones are under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The actions of Iran and Russia violate UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which stipulates that the movement of certain goods to or from Iran requires prior Security Council approval.

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In response to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the UK and its international partners have implemented the toughest sanctions package ever imposed on a major economy. The UK has sanctioned over 1,200 individuals and 120 organizations since the invasion began and introduced unprecedented trade measures.

Asset Freeze

An asset freeze prevents any UK citizen or UK company from dealing with funds or economic resources owned, held or controlled by the nominated person. UK financial sanctions apply to all persons within UK territory and territorial sea and to all British persons wherever they are in the world. It also prevents funds or economic resources from being made available for or on behalf of the designated person.

travel ban

A travel ban means that the designated person must be refused permission to enter or reside in the UK provided the person is an Excluded Person under Section 8B of the Immigration Act 1971.

transportation sanctions

Recently introduced powers make it a criminal offense for any Russian aircraft to fly or land in the UK and give the government the power to remove aircraft owned by certain Russian individuals and legal entities from the UK aircraft register, even if the sanctioned person is not on board. Russian ships are also not allowed to call at British ports.


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