HomeWorldRussia Expands Use of Iranian Combat Drones in Ukraine

Russia Expands Use of Iranian Combat Drones in Ukraine

Ukraine has shot down more than a dozen Iranian combat drones across the front lines this week as Russia expands the use of a foreign weapons system, Ukrainian commanders say. caused serious damage on their troops.

In his late-night speech on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country’s anti-aircraft forces had been shot down Iranian drones in the eastern region of Dnipropetrovsk and the southern city of Odessa, including the nearby port of Pivdennyi, used for export grain.

Protests against President Renewed in Russia

Vladimir PutinAn order to mobilize new troops to bolster its flag offensive in Ukraine led to hundreds of detentions across the country on Saturday.

The Ukrainian Air Force identified the downed weapons as Shahed-136 unmanned kamikaze drones, or loitering munitions, and Mohajer-6 drones that can carry missiles and be used for reconnaissance. It published a video showing one of the drones it shot from the sky in the Dnipropetrovsk region.

The Iranian drones are relatively small and fly at a very low altitude, making it difficult for Ukrainian air defense systems to detect them. At least one of the drones reached the Ukrainian defenses and hit the naval headquarters in Odessa on Friday. Ukraine’s southern military command said a civilian was killed and an administrative building in the port area was destroyed.

A drone that Ukrainian authorities believe is an Iranian-made Shahed-136 flew over the city of Odessa on Friday.


Photo:

STRINGER/REUTERS

Footage broadcast by Ukrainian news channels shows soldiers unsuccessfully trying to shoot it with small arms before it crashed into a fireball. You can hear soldiers yelling, “Where the hell is air defense?”

Another video online showed one of the crashed drones being towed to the shore in the water.

The air force said it destroyed seven more Iranian drones on Thursday, including four Shahed-136s, in the southern region of Mykolaiv, and another on Tuesday.

Shahed-136 delta-wing drones, repainted in Russian colors and renamed Geranium 2, began appearing this month over Ukrainian armor and artillery positions in the northeastern region of Kharkiv, said Colonel Rodion Kulagin, artillery commander of Ukraine’s 92nd Mechanized Brigade .

Ukrainian military personnel in the Mykolaiv region, where Ukraine says it shot down several Russian-operated drones this week.


Photo:

genya savilov/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

In the operational area of ​​his brigade alone, the Iranian drones – which usually fly in pairs and then crash into their targets – destroyed two 152 mm self-propelled howitzers and two 122 mm self-propelled howitzers, as well as two BTR armored infantry. vehicles, Colonel Kulagin said.

Russia’s use of Shahed-136 drones in Ukraine represents the most challenging expansion of Tehran’s arsenal beyond the Middle East, where Iran has used its unmanned aerial vehicles to pressure the US and its allies in the region. It also points to the shortcomings of Russia’s own drone program, which has failed to match the firepower of armed UAVs deployed by Ukraine.

The immediate impact on the battlefield of the introduction of Iranian drones into the war in Ukraine is difficult to estimate, but the deployment gives Tehran an opportunity to test its products against the defense systems of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, said Bernard Hudson, former counter-terrorism director of the Central Intelligence Agency. .

“This gives Tehran a risk-free path to improve their drone technology and tactics and make them more capable and deadly. The lessons from Ukraine will teach us how Iran will later use these systems in the Middle East,” said Mr. Hudson, founder and director of Looking Glass Global Services, which operates in the drone sector in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. .

Late Friday, Mr. Zelensky that Ukraine had revoked the Iranian ambassador’s accreditation and reduced the number of diplomatic personnel at the Iranian embassy in Kiev in response to Iran’s sending of the drones. He said he had tasked the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with developing a response to: Iranian aid to Russia: “The world will be aware of every fact of collaboration with evil.”

Kremlin-orchestrated referendums to annex territory by Russia in Ukraine began Friday in four regions. People in Russia said goodbye to their loved ones after President Vladimir Putin’s call for troops to fight in Ukraine. Photo: Associated Press

Israel and the West have accused Iran and its proxies of flying armed drones to attack Saudi Arabia’s Oil Industrythe capital of the United Arab Emirates and US soldiers in Syria, as well as tankers in the Gulf of Oman in recent years. Iran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen have repeatedly used delta-wing drones to launch attacks on neighboring Saudi Arabia.

In an interview published on Saturday by the French newspaper Ouest-France, Mr. Zelensky regretted that Israel had not provided Ukraine with anti-aircraft fire. “This shocks me because Israel is exporting its weapons to other countries at the same time,” he said, blaming Russian influence in Israel. Israel has previously said it will oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but will provide humanitarian rather than military aid.

Ukraine has asked Western allies, who have already supplied billions of dollars in military equipment, to provide more advanced antidrone and air defense technologies.

In a separate incident, Ukraine’s southern military command said on Saturday that an unmanned aerial vehicle had dropped a toxic chemical on Ukrainian positions, without specifying its location. There are no significant casualties, according to the organization.

In Russia, Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev,

who was sanctioned? by the European Union in June for overseeing the bombing of the strategic Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, was promoted to Deputy Defense Minister for Logistics on Saturday. Since the beginning of the war, the Russian army has struggled to supply and maintain its troops in the field and to provide them with adequate equipment, critically hampering Moscow’s invasion plans.

A heavily damaged Russian tank near Kupyansk, a city in the northeast recently recaptured by Ukraine.


Photo:

Sergey Kozlov/Shutterstock

Russians appeared on Saturday in more than a dozen cities across the country to protest Mr Putin’s order to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people to fight in Ukraine. Also on Saturday, Mr Putin signed a new law punishing soldiers who refuse to fight, leave the army or surrender with up to 10 years in prison.

In Moscow, riot police detained protesters en masse and forcibly, carrying them by their limbs and scruffs and stuffing them into police cars. Most protesters were unable to pull out placards before being detained.

The demonstrations were the second this week after protests erupted in the wake of Putin’s directive on Wednesday. That evening, protesters chanted “Let our children live!” and “Send Putin to the trenches!” According to the independent Russian OVD-Info rights monitor and interviews by The Wall Street Journal, agents have detained more than 1,400 people across the country and handed draft messages to some protesters.

According to OVD-Info, nearly 750 people were arrested on Saturday evening.

Write to Stephen Kalin at stephen.kalin@wsj.com and Evan Gershkovich at evan.gershkovich@wsj.com

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