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Ukrainian Air Force Shoots Down 16 Iranian-Manufactured Drones During Overnight Russian Attacks

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avatar by Ben Cohen

Ukrainian rescue units survey the aftermath of a Russian drone strike in the Dnipro region. Photo: Reuters/Latin America News Agency

Ukraine’s armed forces announced on Friday that 16 Iranian-manufactured Shahed drones launched by invading Russian forces had been shot down overnight.

A statement released on the Telegram channel of Ukrainian Air Force noted that the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 drones had been fired at targets around the country. One drone was reported to have hit a government administrative building in the capital Kyiv, with no word yet on the number of casualties.

The announcement came amid renewed speculation concerning the military alliance between Russia and Iran.

On Thursday, Andriy Yusov, a spokesperson for the defense ministry’s intelligence department (GUR) stated in a television interview that while the Iranian regime had agreed earlier this month to supply Russia with extra drones and ballistic missiles to bolster its dwindling stock of weaponry, Tehran was reluctant to follow through on the deal.

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Yusov said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s determination to secure missiles from the Iranians meant that “serious work is underway on this.”

“There are preliminary agreements, we know that they exist, but now we have to wait and see,” Yusov said. “As far as we know, not everyone in Iran is so keen to help Putin, understanding how it can threaten the Iranian regime.”

Earlier this week, the air force claimed that it had already destroyed more than 20 percent of the Iranian drones in Russian hands.

Ukrainian military officials have been emphasizing cracks in the Iranian-Russian alliance, pointing out that Tehran is fearful of even tougher western sanctions as it confronts the historic anti-regime protests now raging across the country.

Gen. Kyrylo Budanov of the defense ministry’s intelligence branch said in an interview on Monday that Iran was reticent about supplying Russia with Fateh-110 and Zolfhigar missiles “because as soon as Russia launches the first missiles, the sanctions pressure on Iran will increase.”

Over the summer, the first evidence that Russia was using Iranian weapons in its assault on Ukraine was made public by the government in Kyiv. According to the Ukrainian news outlet Gordon, the Shahed 131 and Shahed 136 drones have been repainted in Russian colors and renamed “Geranium-1” and “Geranium-2.

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