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Iran summons Ukraine's top diplomat after Isfahan drone strike

Iran's summoning relates to a Ukrainian presidential adviser's tweet that implicitly welcomes the suspected Israeli attack over the weekend.
People demonstrate outside the Iranian embassy in Ukraine on October 17, 2022 in Kyiv, after the city was hit by swarms of kamikaze drones sold by Iran to Russia, leaving at least three dead. (Photo by SERGEI CHUZAVKOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran summoned Ukraine's chargé d'affaires in Tehran on Monday after a Ukrainian official appeared to praise a suspected Israeli drone strike on an Iranian factory on Sunday morning local time. 

What happened: A military factory in the central Iranian city of Isfahan sustained a drone attack Saturday night. The damage from the strike was unclear. A US official told Reuters that Israel “appears” to have been responsible, though the Israeli military has not confirmed this. Israeli officials rarely discuss their overseas operations. 

On Sunday, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, referred to the attack as an “explosive night in Iran” and said Ukraine had “warned” the Islamic Republic — an apparent reference to Iran allegedly supplying Russia with drones.  



On Monday, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the top Ukrainian diplomat in the country. The ministry said the action was in response to “strange and biased” statements from Podoloyak, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Why it matters: Western and Ukrainian officials have repeatedly accused Iran of supplying Russia with drones for use in the invasion of Ukraine, and Iranian drones have been intercepted during the war. Iranian officials have admitted sending some drones to Russia before the war but deny that their drones are being used in the conflict. 

The drone issue has soured Iran-Ukraine relations. In his December speech to the US Congress, Zelenskyy labeled Iran a “critical threat” to Ukrainian infrastructure and accused the Islamic Republic of participating in Russia’s “genocidal policy.” 

Podolyak has also threatened Iran in the past. In a December tweet, he called for the “liquidation” of Iranian military factories. In October, he tweeted that “sanctions are not enough” in response to Iran supplying Russia with drones. 

Know more: Historically, Iran had good relations with Ukraine. The ties between the two soured in 2020 before the Russian invasion. In January of that year, Iran shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 — killing everyone onboard. Iran was in the process of striking US military positions in Iraq and said it mistook the plane for a military target. Ukraine has rejected Iran’s assessment of the situation. 

Iran has close political, economic and military relations with Russia. On Sunday, Iran and Russia signed a bank messaging agreement in a bid to bypass Western sanctions. 

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