The Daily Telegraph

Tehran’s aggression


Unable to prevail through convention­al military means, Vladimir Putin has launched a campaign of terror against Ukraine. He also has a new weapon in his arsenal. With his stocks of precision long-range missiles limited and his forces unable to secure new supplies from the West, Russia’s president has turned to Shahed-136 kamikaze drones purchased from Iran to rain death down from the skies. The victims of his latest strikes this week included an elderly woman and a couple who were expecting their first child.

Even as Iran’s despotic regime props up the Kremlin’s faltering campaign, however, many in the West cling to the hope that a new deal can be done with Tehran over its nuclear programme. The UK and France did, admittedly, say this week that selling drones to Russia constitute­d a breach of the original 2015 agreement. But others continue with the pretence that the Iranian leadership – which is brutally suppressin­g protests over its “morality” laws – can be bargained with. Talks are due to resume after the US mid-terms next month.

Iran has denied that it supplied the drones, a protestati­on that even commentato­rs within the country consider to be scarcely credible. The regime has a history of supporting terrorist groups, and intervened on the same side as Russia in favour of Bashar al-assad in the Syrian civil war. Now, a new controvers­y looms. Iran’s national team is due to play England in the group stage of the Football World Cup in Qatar next month, a tournament that has already faced criticism due to the country’s human rights record. Russia is not being allowed to compete. Given Tehran’s aid to Putin, some might wonder whether the Iranians should be permitted to take part either.

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