Ukrainian officials are accusing Russia of using Iranian-made "kamikaze" drones to hit targets deep within their territory, including in one attack in a town located just 50 miles south of the capital city of Kyiv.
This week, officials said Russia had used drones of the "Shahed-136 type" in the attack on the town of Bila Tserkva, destroying several buildings and injuring one person in a strike that is the closest to the country's capital while using such weapons, reports NBC News.
Christopher Tuck, an expert in conflict and security at King's College London, said the drone has been nicknamed "kamikaze" because it destroys targets by crashing into them. The weapon can be equipped with a small warhead and has an operational range that can be up to 1,200 miles, but is likely shorter in practice, he added.
"It's still sufficient to hit any target in Ukraine from Russian-occupied areas," Tuck said.
For weeks, Ukraine has been speaking out about Russia's growing use of drones that it says are being supplied by Tehran, and first reported the use of what it claimed was a Shahed-136 drone last month while it was pushing against Russia in its counteroffensive in Ukraine's northeast region.
After that, the Ukraine air force command reported that the drones were also used in attacks on the cities of Odesa and Mykolaiv.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said Thursday that its forces have shot down half of Russia's Iranian-made drones, posting on Telegram that from "September 30 to October 6, the Defense Forces of Ukraine destroyed 24 Shahed-136 kamikaze drones," reports Newsweek.
The Telegram post noted that Brig. Gen. Oleksiy Gromov, deputy chief of the Main Operations Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, had commented that during that period, Russia had fired 46 of the drones into Ukrainian territory.
The Ukrainian government shared an image of the wreckage of one of the weapons that appeared to have Russian writing, reports NBC News, noting that it was not able to verify if the drone was an Iranian Shahed-136 or any other drone produced there.
Military experts said it is difficult to verify if the drones were Iranian, but Michael A. Horowitz, a geopolitical and security analyst and head of intelligence at Le Beck consultancy, said the drone's overall shape and wingtip match up with videos from Iran's military exercises.
"That's no conclusive proof, but it's as close as we can get from an open-source point of view," Horowitz said.
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