Russia is worried the UN will affirm its use of Iranian drones - analysis

If such evidence is found by the UN, it would be a major precedent. Russia knows this and will do everything to stop it.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony to declare the annexation of the Russian-controlled territories of four Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, after holding what Russian authorities called referendums in the occupied areas of Ukraine that w (photo credit: REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony to declare the annexation of the Russian-controlled territories of four Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, after holding what Russian authorities called referendums in the occupied areas of Ukraine that w
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Russia is worried that the United Nations will find evidence of its use of Iranian drones in Ukraine.

Moscow invaded its beleaguered neighbor earlier this year and has increasingly used Iranian-style drones to wreak havoc, terrorizing Ukrainian civilians and attacking energy infrastructure on the eve of winter. Last week, the UK, France and Germany called for a United Nations probe of accusations that Russia has used drones from Iran to attack Ukraine. 

If such evidence is found by the world body, it would apparently be a violation of a UN Security Council Resolution, Reuters noted. “In a letter signed by their UN envoys and seen by Reuters, the three backed Ukraine's call on Monday for such a probe, arguing the drone use breached UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231 endorsing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.” 

Russia is worried

Moscow has said that the call for a probe would “create a dangerous precedent,” Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya said on Wednesday.

"The actions of Western delegations, who demand the secretariat organize a probe into the use of drones, create a very dangerous precedent for the United Nations’ work. From the legal point of view, they want an artificial expansion of the secretariat’s competencies and endowing it with extra functions by means of infringing upon the Security Council’s prerogatives," he said, according to Russian state media TASS.  

 A view of drones during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 24, 2022 (credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) A view of drones during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 24, 2022 (credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

"We call on the Security Council members to defend the UN Charter, to condemn the Western delegation’s actions that are undermining it, and to speak up clearly for the Secretariat’s sticking to Article 101 of the Charter and its mandate," the Russians said. 

"Today, we have heard nothing legal in the reasoning of those countries who demanded the Secretariat organize a probe. Only the same old misleading deliberation about the Secretariat’s duty to respond to the member states’ inquiries," he said. "It was especially touching to hear the United States, the major resolution violator, accusing Russia of violating resolutions.” 

Russia's pushback may set up a crisis at the UN

Western countries may feel increasingly that Russia abuses its role on the Security Council and that after the invasion of Ukraine, Russia cannot have a responsible role in international institutions like the UN. For years, the leading abusers of human rights were enabled by the UN - they sat in judgment of countries that are democracies via the Human Rights Council and other forums. For instance countries like Iran, which massacres women protesters, would be enabled to be on UN forums about women. The West is now watching this demand for a look into the Russian use of drones closely. 

The evidence is clear from Ukraine. Iranian-origin engines are on the drones that Russia is using. Moscow is either assembling them locally with Iranian know-how or buying them off the shelf from the Islamic Republic, taking delivery and then launching them in Ukraine. Drones are used to kill civilians and destroy civilian infrastructure. Iranian advisors maybe with Russian forces as well, according to reports.

As evidence mounts, there is anger in the West at both Russia and Iran. Tehran is also rushing to deny the fact that its drones are being used because it knows that evidence of its role in the war against Ukraine will harm its ability to exploit divisions in the West to get a new nuclear deal.  

This is why the UN probe is so important. If it finds and certifies a real smoking gun of evidence, it would be a major precedent. Russia knows this and will do everything to stop it.

The question now remains how the European countries will proceed and whether they can get this UN probe off the ground. If Russia is able to prevent the UN investigation, then it will have stymied international efforts, which could weaken the UN once more in the eyes of the West and the world – making it seem like a new version of the League of Nations, incapable of fulfilling its role.