US: We're talking with Israel about Russia's Iranian drone warfare

Ned Price rejected criticism of Israel's communications with Russia in recent days.

 A drone is launched during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 25, 2022. (photo credit:  Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS)
A drone is launched during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 25, 2022.
(photo credit: Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS)

The Biden administration is in conversations with Israel about ways to combat the proliferation of Iranian sales of its armed drones and Russia's military use of them, particularly against civilian targets, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday.

"We have absolutely had discussions with our Israeli partners regarding the threat presented by Iranian UAV technology and the proliferation of Iranian UAV technology to countries around the world, including to Russia," Price said. 

"We’re looking to harmonize our approach with countries, allies and partners, around the world to see to it that we are taking a coordinated approach to disrupt this pipeline of technology from Iran to Russia and other malign actors," he said.

The Biden administration has held internal conversations on the issue, looked to disrupt the proliferation network and sanctioned Iranian individuals and entities, he said. 

Price said he believed that Russia was targeting civilians because it had failed to achieve its military objective.

 Engine of an Iranian drone downed in Ukraine. (credit: COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT) Engine of an Iranian drone downed in Ukraine. (credit: COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT)

"Russians are increasingly turning to critical infrastructure, to energy targets, to civilian targets, and that to us reeks of barbarism, desperation, and ultimately a failing strategy," he said.

Last month, US Central Command head, General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, spoke with reporters about the Iranian drone threat and explained that Israel's inclusion in CENTCOM's region in 2021 expanded the opportunities for the Biden administration and Israel to work cooperatively to combat this threat.

Price rejects criticism of Israel's contacts with Russia

Separately, Price also spoke of the mediatory role Israel and other countries could play in ending Russia's war against Ukraine, as he dismissed criticism of Foreign Minister Eli Cohen's conversation earlier that day with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

"Israel has a relationship with Russia. Israel’s relationship with Russia looks different from the relationship the United States has with Russia. That’s okay."

US State Department spokesman Ned Price

"Israel has a relationship with Russia. Israel’s relationship with Russia looks different from the relationship the United States has with Russia. That’s okay," Price said. 

"We’ve consistently made the point that a number of countries around the world have engaged with the Russians in an effort to bring about an end to their illegal, unprovoked, unjustified war. 

"There is nothing wrong with communication. We have communicated with our partners in the Russian Federation when it implicates our core interests.

"What matters much more to us, rather than the fact of communication, is the nature of the messages that are being conveyed. And if Israel or any other country has the ability to help bring about an end to Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine, that’s something we would welcome as long as the terms of that effort are acceptable to our Ukrainian partners," Price said.