Ukraine to 'Significantly Reduce' Iran Diplomatic Presence

A general view shows Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine. Reuters file photo
A general view shows Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine. Reuters file photo
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Ukraine to 'Significantly Reduce' Iran Diplomatic Presence

A general view shows Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine. Reuters file photo
A general view shows Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine. Reuters file photo

Kyiv said on Friday it has decided to reduce Iran's diplomatic presence in Ukraine over sending weapons to its foe Russia.

Ukraine's foreign ministry said "the temporary charge d'affaires of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ukraine was summoned" over the issue.

A ministry statement said the envoy was told the supply of Iranian weapons to Russia "directly contradicts the position of neutrality, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine" and was "an unfriendly act that deals a serious blow to Ukraine-Iran relations".

"In response to such an unfriendly act, the Ukrainian side decided to deprive the ambassador of Iran in Ukraine of accreditation, as well as to significantly reduce the number of diplomatic personnel of the Iranian embassy in Kyiv", the ministry said.

Earlier on Friday Kyiv said one civilian was killed during a Russian attack with drones on the southern port city of Odessa and one Iranian-designed unmanned vehicle was shot down by Ukrainian forces.

According to AFP, President Volodymyr Zelensky's spokesman said "the use of Iranian-made weapons by Russian troops... are steps taken by Iran against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state."

Later on Friday Ukraine's armed forces said four Iranian-made drones had been shot down in the south of the country during the day.



US Slaps Sanctions on Network It Accuses of Moving Billions for Iran’s Military

The Treasury Department is pictured in Washington, US, April 25, 2021. (Reuters)
The Treasury Department is pictured in Washington, US, April 25, 2021. (Reuters)
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US Slaps Sanctions on Network It Accuses of Moving Billions for Iran’s Military

The Treasury Department is pictured in Washington, US, April 25, 2021. (Reuters)
The Treasury Department is pictured in Washington, US, April 25, 2021. (Reuters)

The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on nearly 50 entities and people it accused of moving billions of dollars for Iran's military.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said those targeted on Tuesday constitute a "shadow banking network" used by Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), both of which are under US sanctions.

The network helped the MODAFL and IRGC - which earn money notably from the sale of oil and petrochemicals - gain access to the international financial system and process the equivalent of billions of dollars since 2020, the Treasury said.

The Treasury said the revenue generated by the MODAFL and IRGC through networks of Iranian exchange houses and foreign cover companies supported the provision of weapons and funding to Iran's proxy groups, including Yemen's Houthi militias, and the transfer of drones to Russia for use in the war against Ukraine.

Washington has issued rafts of sanctions targeting Iranian drones and the Houthis, who have been launching drone and missile strikes in shipping lanes since November in what they say is solidarity with Palestinians in Israel's war in Gaza.

"We continue to work with allies and partners, as well as the global financial industry, to increase vigilance against the movement of funds supporting terrorism," Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in the statement.

Iran's mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately comment on the action.

Tuesday's action targeted dozens of companies in Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and Marshall Islands, as well as Iran and Türkiye-based firms.

The Treasury said the MODAFL Supply Division uses exchange houses in Iran that manage numerous cover companies registered in jurisdictions such as Hong Kong or the UAE to launder revenue, including from oil sales conducted by Sahara Thunder, which the US imposed sanctions on in April.

The Treasury at the time accused Sahara Thunder of being a front company that oversees MODAFL's commercial activities in support of the IRGC and Russia's war in Ukraine, playing a key role in Iran's design, development, manufacture and sale of thousands of drones.

The move freezes the US assets of banned companies and individuals, and generally bars Americans from dealing with them. Those that engage in certain transactions with them also risk being hit with sanctions.