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The brain fog of war ‘We all know they’re Iranian, but the government won’t admit it,’ Russian arms expert blurts out on live TV
Since last summer, multiple sources have reported that Russia was buying Iranian drones for the war in Ukraine. Russia’s Geran-2 drones (“Geraniums”) are none other than repainted Iranian Shahed-136 drones, now actively used by the Russian military in attacking the Ukrainian energy infrastructure. Still, both Moscow and Teheran are stubbornly keeping silent about this arms dealing. This makes the Russian arms expert Ruslan Pukhov’s recent TV blunder particularly curious.
Ruslan Pukhov, a pro-Kremlin Russian military expert appeared on a live “What Does This Mean” RBK TV show on October 19. Minutes before his appearance, the hosts Bogdana Prikhoda and Yury Tamantsev mentioned that the West is accusing Iran of supplying Russia with Shahed-136 and Mohajer drones. Pukhov then came on stage, greeted the hosts, and — without realizing that the mics were on — instructed them not to lean too much on the Iranian topic:
Let’s not rock the boat too much. I’m asking you, don’t — these Iranian things are just like the classic joke, “there’s an asshole but no such word,” yes? We all know they’re Iranian, but the government won’t admit it.
The hosts interrupted Pukhov, signaling that they were on air.
No one brings up the Iranian drones for the rest of Pukhov’s live TV appearance. He notes, instead, only that Russia must import weapons, given the current combat situation: “And there’s nothing embarrassing about it — we should rake in everything we can, yes?”
Ruslan Pukhov is a council member at the Russian Defense Ministry, and a co-founder of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), which publishes the Russian Arm Exports journal. Recently, he figured in Ivan Safronov’s treason case as a prosecution witness.
Following his botched TV appearance, Pukhov told journalists that he doesn’t remember talking about Iranian drones. “Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. I can’t remember, sadly. This was a while ago, and after COVID, I have brain fog.”
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On October 19, the UN Security Council discussed Iranian arms exports to Russia in a closed meeting. The United States and a number of other countries have said that drone export from Iran violates the UN Security Council resolution 2231 on the Iranian nuclear issue. The next day, Russia’s First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyansky called those statements “disinformation,” meant to “distract the international community from their de facto involvement in the Ukrainian conflict.”
Polyansky added that, should the UN Secretary-General take part in “some any unlawful investigations,” Russia would have to “reconsider” its cooperation with the UN.
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