The World Affairs Columnist Frida Ghitis: How Ukrainian and Iranian Demonstrations fought on the 17th Ukrainian Independence Day
There is a world affairs columnist by the name of Frida Ghitis, a former CNN producer and correspondent. She is a weekly opinion contributor to CNN, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post and a columnist for World Politics Review. Her views are her own in this commentary. CNN has more opinion on it.
On Sunday, almost by accident, two groups of demonstrators came together in London. One was waving Ukrainian flags; the other Iranian flags. When they met, they cheered each other and said they would win.
The war in Ukraine and the uprising in Iran are very different things to see on the surface. They are being fought by people who risk their lives, so that they can fight against dictatorships that are violent and entrenched.
The battles show bravery that is almost impossible to the rest of us and is inspiring support in places like Afghanistan.
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The death of a young woman in Iran last month sparked off the whole thing. Known as “Zhina,” she died in the custody of morality police who detained her for breaking the relentlessly, violently enforced rules requiring women to dress modestly.
In defiance, Iranian women have shed their hijab and thrown it into the fire, dancing around the fires and acting as if they are still alive.
Their peaceful uprising is not really about the hijab; it’s about cutting the shackles of oppression, which is why men have joined them in large numbers, even as the regime kills more and more protesters.
After all, it was less than a decade ago that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military entered Syria’s long civil war, helping to save the dictator Bashar al-Assad (as Iran had).
As Washington warned that Zelensky was a “prime target for Russian aggression,” the Ukrainian president sent a message to his country and to the rest of the world, vowing to stay.
“”The enemy can attack our cities, but it won’t be able to break us. The president of Ukraine wrote that the occupiers would only be punished with fair punishment and condemnation of future generations.
The Russian trajectory looks like a trail of war crime, with hundreds of bombed hospitals, schools, civilian convoys and mass graves filled with Ukrainians.
The repressive regimes in Moscow and Tehran are now isolated, pariahs in most of the world, supported by a few autocrats.
The first trip outside the former Soviet Union since the start of Putin’s Ukrainian war was to Iran. Is it logical that Iran has trained Russian forces and provided them with advanced drones to kill Ukrainians?
These are two regimes that, while very different in their ideologies, have much in common in their tactics of repression and their willingness to project power abroad.
Multiple Putin critics have suffered mysterious deaths. Many have fallen out of windows. According to freedom house and other democracy research and advocacy groups, Iran and Russia have become leading practitioners of the practice of reprisals against critics abroad.
For people in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, there’s more than passing interest in the admittedly low probability that the Iranian regime could fall. It would be transformative for their countries and their lives, heavily influenced by Tehran. After all, Iran’s constitution calls for spreading its Islamist revolution.
It’s a time of uncertainty for most of the world. Putin was considered a genius seven months ago. That myth has turned to dust. The man who helped suppress uprisings, entered wars, and tried to manipulate elections across the planet now looks cornered.
In the past three months, Russia has launched missiles and drones at Ukrainian targets, sending many at a time in a bid to overwhelm air defenses. They have targeted civilian infrastructure like the electrical grid and heating plants, pitching millions of people at a time into the cold and dark amid dangerous winter weather.
The drones are disposable so they are referred to as “kamikaze”. They are designed to hit behind enemy lines and are destroyed in the attack — unlike the more traditional, larger and faster military drones that return home after dropping missiles.
According to CNN, the Shahed-131 warhead has helped analysts better understand how Iran has been manufacturing its drones.
Kiev Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko and the European Union Foreign Ministers will meet in Luxembourg on the Iran-Ukraine “Concrete Evidence”
Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said at least two Russian airstrikes targeted downtown Kyiv. Two more people were in the city according to the public broadcaster of the country.
The office says several residential buildings were damaged. He added that rescuers pulled 18 people from the rubble of one building and are looking for two more. Emergency services close most of the city’s central streets.
Anton Gerashcenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Internal Ministry, reported attacks on infrastructure near the city’s main rail station, but lines were operating as normal midmorning Monday.
Zelenskyy’s chief-of-staff, Andriy Yermak, again called on the west to provide Ukraine with more air defense systems. “We have no time for slow actions,” he said online.
Klitshchko posted a photo of shrapnel labeled “Geran-2,” Russian’s designation for the Iranian drones, but he removed the picture after commenters criticized him for confirming a Russian strike.
European Union foreign ministers are scheduled to meet today in Luxembourg. The EU’s top diplomat told reporters before the meeting that the bloc would look into “concrete evidence” of Iran’s involvement in Ukraine.
“This is a partnership of convenience between two embattled dictatorships,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Both countries are going through a tough time. Iran is attempting to quell street protests that pose the most serious challenge in years to the government, while Russia is trying to manage rising dissension over a faltering war effort and an unpopular draft.
The Shahed Drones: A Solution to the Iran-Ukraine War and the U.S.-Embedded Space Mission
The Iranian drones can be considered a “loitering munition” because they are capable of circling for several minutes in an area that is a potential target and only striking if an enemy asset is identified.
Another disadvantage of the Shahed drones is their speed, said Ret. Marine Col. Mark Cancian, who now serves as a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“The problem with them is that they’re slow,” Cancian said. “They’re propeller-driven and you know, like all propeller-driven drones, they’re just not very fast so they’re susceptible to being shot down by either missiles or by aircraft guns.”
Russia may get Iranian surface-to-surface missiles, according to a report. Iran has opposed the continuation of the Ukrainian war, according to the spokesman for Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Iran has time and again declared that it is siding with no side in the Russia-Ukraine war. Iran has not given arms to either warring side,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.
Both Nadimi and Cancian compared the Russian decision to target cities as it is losing on the frontlines to The Blitz – the German bombing campaign that targeted London in World War II.
“It seems like the Russians are using these the way they use their cruise missiles – that is to strike at the major cities likely with the intention of intimidating the Ukrainian population … but I think from a military point of view that is a mistake,” Cancian said. “The Ukrainians are very unlikely to break. It’s not likely that the morale is going to break.
Cancian said that by focusing on the cities, the military would have more time to recover from the front lines like Britain did in WWII.
At the same time, the U.S. has said it is speeding up its delivery of NASAMS, the same ground-based air defense systems that are used to protect the White House in Washington, D.C., and the systems are expected to be in Ukraine in a few weeks.
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Editor’s Note: A version of this story first appeared in CNN’s Meanwhile in the Middle East newsletter, a three-times-a-week look inside the region’s biggest stories. Sign up here.
Since Russia’s invasion, the two sanctioned countries have cooperated on political and economic matters, with the military dimension being the latest facet in their relationship.
Iran, which before the 1979 revolution imported most of its weapons, now manufactures more than 80% of its military equipment, he was cited as saying by semi-official news agency Fars.
“For the Iranians, it is about getting market share, it is about prestige, it is about solidifying alliances,” said Eric Lob, a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute’s Iran program, adding that these are incentives for a country that is as isolated as Iran.
Iran’s archenemy Israel, too, is likely to be watching very closely, said Amir Avivi, a retired senior general in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and founder and CEO of the Israel Defense and Security Forum.
He told CNN that it was an opportunity and a threat. It is an opportunity for us to understand what is going on in Iran. weapons could arrive to Hezbollah for example, so we worry about that.
Sending further Iranian weaponry to Russia is a move that will likely cause relations with the US to further deteriorate. The Biden administration will not waste their time on talks to revive the nuclear deal if nothing happens, according to the US envoy to Iran. Tehran’s support for Russia in the Ukraine war and its crackdown on nationwide protests prompted by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September have prompted the US to impose further sanctions on Iran.
Regime change instigated from Washington is not part of the Biden administration’s policy on Iran, US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley told CNN’s Becky Anderson on Monday.
“Our policy is to defend and support the fundamental rights of Iranian citizens just as we want to support the fundamental rights of citizens across the globe. He said that the form of government in Iran would be up to the Iranians.
The morality police and others involved in the persecution will continue to be subject to sanctions. Envoy to Iran @Rob_Malley talks to me about what the Biden administration is doing to support the protests in Iran. pic.twitter.com/FGr8IKyVe6
There have been nationwide protests since the death of a young woman with calls for change ringing around the streets.
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In an interview with state-run IRNA after her arrival in Tehran, the professional Iranian rock climber Elnaz Rekabi said that she lost her hijab while competing in the Asian Championships in South Korea.
The European Union on Monday sanctioned 11 people and four entities for their role in the death of Mahsa Amini and the subsequent crackdown on protesters. The move was branded a “superfluous” by the Iranian Foreign Minister.
Iran HR said on Monday that there have been at least 215 deaths in Iran since protests began in September.
The United Arab Emirates on Monday summoned the acting head of the EU mission in the country, asking for an explanation of what it said were racist comments made by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell last week. The comments were said to have been inappropriate and discriminatory by the foreign ministry.
Background: In his remarks at the new European Diplomatic Academy in Bruges, Belgium last week, Borrell called Europe “a garden” and most of the world a “jungle” that “could invade the garden.” “The gardeners have to go to the jungle. Europeans have to be more connected to the rest of the world. The rest of the world will invade us if that isn’t done. At a press conference on Monday, Borrell denied that his message was racist or colonialist, news agency EFE reported.
The speech’s comments have caused a stir on social media in the Middle East, where critics say it is promoting a colonial narrative. Most of the Middle East had been under European control until the mid-20th century.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemns the US State Department’s decision to reversibly recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Australia’s ambassador to the country on Tuesday to protest Canberra’s reversal of a decision taken by the previous government to recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said.
On Tuesday, Australia’s Foreign Minister said the sovereignty of the holy city should be resolved in any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Why it matters: Israel considers all of Jerusalem its “undivided capital.” The eastern sector of the city was captured during the 1967 war and later annexed, which is not recognized by most of the international community. Palestinians want the occupied eastern sector of the city as the capital of a future state.
Background: The US State Department confirmed earlier Tuesday that 72-year-old Saad Ibrahim Almadi has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia after being given a 16-year sentence for tweets critical of the Saudi government. He said that the State Department is still looking into whether or not the man will be designated as wrongly imprisoned.
TheSaudi Arabia has strict rules regarding social media and they have sentenced people in the past for misuse of social media. In August, a court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a female rights activist to 34 years in prison after she was found guilty of posting on social media. A US based advocacy group claims that a woman has been sentenced to 45 years in prison for defamation on the internet.
The speaker has not shied away from controversy. In the Gulf states, public bashing of neighboring countries is not allowed, but in 2012 after Saudi Arabia proposed joining Gulf nations into a union, the speaker of parliament said he supported Gulf integration with conditions.
Sadoun, who has more than 400,000 followers on Twitter, was trending in Egypt, Kuwait and the UAE following the announcement. Kuwait is a country of 4.3 million people, just under 2 million of whom are citizens.
“There cannot be a union with countries whose political systems are different… whose jails are filled with thousands of prisoners of conscience,” he told the Saudi state-backed news channel Al Arabiya news channel at the time, adding that his own country enjoys freedom of expression and representation.
In the region, politics of Kuwait are closely followed. Despite the yearslong standoff between the government and parliament which has delayed vital reform, the country is widely seen as the most democratic of the six Gulf states.
A military jet crashed into a village in Yemen’s Hodeida, a hometown of the last war-torn Yemen
Yemeni children attend class outdoors in a heavily-damaged school on the first day of the new academic year in Yemen’s war-torn western province of Hodeida on Monday.
In August of this year, the Pentagon said it would send small aircraft that soldiers toss into the air to launch and then control from up to nine miles away. The umas can stay at altitudes of 500 feet.
The Bryansk region in Russia has an energy facility that borders with Ukraine, and the governor said on Monday morning that a Ukrainian drones hit it. A village was left without power as a result, he said.
The folk hero status of a Ukrainian pilot for shooting down five Iranian drones was revoked after he crashed into the debris of the last one. The pilot, Karaya — who identified himself by only his nickname, according to military policy — told the local news media afterward, “Within a short period of time, we are adapting to this kind of weapon and are starting to destroy it successfully.”
He said that Karaya steered his military aircraft away from the area after colliding with the debris. Nobody was hurt when the jet crashed into the houses. Karaya apologized to the site.
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“I visited the scene, said I was sorry for the discomfort I caused the residents and thanked them for their steel nerves,” he wrote on Instagram, saying he showed up in his tattered uniform, missing epaulets. He joked that it was a violation of military protocol. “Lost them while leaving the office,” he wrote.
While fighter jets have been effective against Iranian drones, said Yurii Ignat, a Ukrainian Air Force spokesman, the approach is costly because of its use of air-to-air missiles. He said he was frustrated that they must hit the drones with expensive missiles. “What else can we do? This is the reality now.”
This shipment is expected to increase Iranian support for Russia. The exact timing of when the shipment arrives in Russia is unclear, but officials think it will arrive before the end of the year.
John Kirby, the communications coomissioner at the National Security Council said that the presence of Iranian personnel was evidence that Tehran was involved in the conflict.
There are drones that have been used to target civilians. Malley said that Iran was lying and denying that it was happening, despite all of the evidence.
The US didn’t have any information to give on Iran preparing to send missiles to Russia for use in Ukraine and the senior defense official said they didn’t have any information to give.
The US has imposed tough export control restrictions and sanctions to prevent Iran from obtaining high-end materials, but evidence has emerged that suggests Iran is finding an abundance of commercially-available technology.
Last month the US sanctioned an air transportation provider for its involvement in the shipment of the Iranian drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to Russia. The Under Secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence said the US would like to see producers and procurers contributing to the program.
It is unclear what will happen to the longevity of Iran’s support of Russia with more advanced missiles and weaponry.
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There is anticipation for a battle for Kherson which is a Russian-occupied city. The officials have been preparing for a possible counteroffensive by the Ukrainians.
And Ukraine will be watching America’s midterm election results this week, especially after some Republicans warned that the party could limit funding for Ukraine if it wins control of the House of Representatives, as forecast.
The Turkish President will visit Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. Erdogan insists Sweden must meet certain conditions before it can join NATO.
The International Atomic Energy Agency report is scheduled to be discussed by the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of “energy terrorism,” as attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure left more than 4 million Ukrainians without electricity.
Russia rejoined a U.N.-brokered deal to safely export grain and other agricultural goods from Ukraine, on Nov. 2. Moscow had suspended its part in the deal a few days prior after saying Ukraine had launched a drone attack on its Black Sea ships.
You can read past recaps here. There are more in-depth stories you can find here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR’s State of Ukraine podcast for updates throughout the day.
Nonetheless, he said, the strikes, using Iranian drones, had left many in the dark. Mr. Zelensky called the situation in the Odesa region “very difficult,” noting that only the most critical infrastructure there remained operational. It would take days to restore power to civilians despite the repair crews’ nonstop work.
At one point in October, Ukraine’s state power generator, Ukrenergo, said that about 40% of normal electrical supply was offline as a result of the Russian barrages. According to Sergey Kovalenko, CEO of YASNO, Ukrainians will have to live with power cuts until the end of March.
In his remarks Saturday night, Mr. Zelensky said that blackouts have persisted throughout various parts of Ukraine including in the capital, Kyiv. Some are what he classified as “emergency” outages resulting from attacks. Others are what he called “stabilization” outages, or planned blackouts on a schedule.
“The power system is now, to put it mildly, very far from a normal state — there is an acute shortage in the system,” he said, urging people to reduce their power use to put less strain on the battered power grid.
“It must be understood: Even if there are no heavy missile strikes, this does not mean that there are no problems,” he continued. “Almost every day, in different regions, there is shelling, there are missile attacks, drone attacks. Energy facilities are hit almost every day.”
The task force is having to coordinate with other countries since the components being used in drones are not limited to American companies. Conflict Armament Research also found that “more than 70 manufacturers based in 13 different countries and territories” produced the components in the Iranian drones they examined.
Last month, the UK-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research examined several drones that had been downed in Ukraine and found that 82% of their components were manufactured by companies based in the US.
Texas Instruments told CNN that they are not selling any products to Russia, Belarus or Iran. TI complies with applicable laws and regulations in the countries where we operate, and partners with law enforcement organizations as necessary and appropriate. In addition we do not support or condone the use of our products in applications they weren’t designed for.
The officials said information obtained by the US indicates that the Kremlin is preparing to open a factory for the production of drones in Russia as part of a deal with Iran.
Agencies across Washington are involved in the task force, including the departments of Defense, State, Justice, Commerce and Treasury, with one official describing the inquiry as an “all hands on deck” initiative. The effort is being overseen by the White House National Security Council as part of an even bigger, “holistic approach” to dealing with Iran, a senior administration official said, from its crackdown on protesters and its nuclear program to its deepening role in the war in Ukraine.
The White House believes it is successfully driving home the scale of the issue with allies. According to a senior administration official, there has been a growing international consensus on Iran which is being led by US diplomacy.
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There is no evidence that any of the western companies are knowingly exporting their technology to be used in the drones, and that is partly why the task force’s job has been so difficult, officials said.
supply chain monitoring is a challenge but experts say US and Europe could be doing much more.
“American companies should be doing a lot more to track their supply chains,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, the former chief technology officer at the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike.
It is difficult to keep track of these companies because their products are commoditized and easily accessible off-the-shelf and online. They can easily find another supplier, and nixing some Iranian front companies with sanctions will be similar to a “game of whack a mole,” Alperovitch said.
He added that the real “weak underbelly” of US policy when it comes to export controls is enforcement—and prosecuting the specific individuals involved in the illicit transactions.
If you don’t go after the people involved, putting companies on a list ofsanctioned entities doesn’t mean much.
Colonel Ihnat said the Russians were mistaken if they thought that no one would be affected by the war. He added that explosions at Russian airfields complicated the bombing campaign against Ukraine, forcing Moscow to relocate some of its aircraft, though no one is claiming that the strikes have seriously impeded the Russian barrage.
The U.S. reaction to the assaults was quiet. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said, “We are not working to prevent Ukraine from developing their own capability.” Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, stated only that the United States was neither encouraging nor enabling attacks on Russia.
Dmytro Kuleba, foreign minister of Ukraine, told The Associated Press on Monday that Russia might not be invited to a peace summit unless it first faced the reality that they were going to have a war. It was the latest in a string of claims by each country to be open to peace talks — but only on terms that are unacceptable to the other.
About 300 people were wounded, and 400 Russian soldiers were killed in a Vocational School building in Makiivka, according to the Ukrainian military’s Strategic Communications Directorate. That claim could not be independently verified. The Russian statement said the strike occurred “in the area of Makiivka” and didn’t mention the vocational school.
The strike, using a U.S.-supplied precision weapon that has proven critical in enabling Ukrainian forces to hit key targets, delivered a new setback for Russia which in recent months has reeled from a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The Ukrainian military has not confirmed the strike, but seemed to acknowledge the attack that Russian authorities reported.
According to officials, the Kremlin has no plans of stopping its attacks on the energy infrastructure and Ukrainian resistance to its invasion.
Moscow’s full-scale invasion on Feb. 24 has gone awry, putting pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin as his ground forces struggle to hold ground and advance. He said in his New Year’s address that it was a year of difficult decisions.
Putin insists he had no choice but to send troops into Ukraine because it threatened Russia’s security — an assertion condemned by the West, which says Moscow bears full responsibility for the war.
New Year’s Eve attack by a warhead from an Iranian drone in Odesa: a conflict armor investigation with the Ukrainian air force
The governor of the southern Kherson region said on Telegram that five people had been wounded in shelling on Monday.
The Russian forces attacked the city of Beryslav, the official said, firing at a local market, likely from a tank. Three of the wounded are in serious condition and are being evacuated to Kherson, Yanushevich said.
A missile was also destroyed in the Dnipropetrovsk region. He said that energy infrastructure in the region was being targeted.
A blistering New Year’s Eve assault killed at least four civilians across the country, Ukrainian authorities reported, and wounded dozens. The fourth victim died in a hospital on Monday morning at the age of 46.
The Ukrainian Air Force does not have the ability to defend against Iranian missiles if Russia got them for its war with Ukraine.
In order for Ukraine to defeat missile threats, it needed air defense systems from the Americans and the French, according to Ihnat.
Details of the US’s air defense system forUkraine has not been announced. The Ukrainian army was set to start training on the missile system earlier this month.
The warhead from an Iranian Shahed-131 drone found in the Southern Ukrainian region of Odesa was examined by Conflict Armament Research along with the Ukrainian military. CNN was first to receive CAR’s findings.
The charge used for more concentrated targets might be different from the one used for tanks or other battlefield assets. The warhead looked at by CAR has a charge effect which can result in a larger area of impact.