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What are the suicide drones bombing Ukraine and where did Russia get them? : NPR

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Ukrainian firefighters work in a building that collapsed after a drone strike in Kiev on Monday during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images


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Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images


Ukrainian firefighters work in a building that collapsed after a drone strike in Kiev on Monday during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images

Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, killed at least four people on Monday.

The attacks were carried out by Shahed drones, also known as suicide or kamikaze drones.

Drone attacks don’t change the war itself, but their use and how Russia got them is a matter of international interest.

What is this ‘suicide plane’?

Unlike predatory drones that can be remotely controlled and loaded and airborne, Shahed drones are pre-programmed with coordinates and rely on GPS to hit their targets.

Farzin Nadimi is an associate member of the Washington Institute specializing in Iran’s security and defense affairs. Nadimi said these drones are “pretty accurate”, sufficiently resistant to signal jamming, and difficult to detect and track using radar, but not without weaknesses.

“I think the most vulnerable aspect of these drones is the very loud noise they make,” Nadimi said. Said.

Another downside to Shahed drones is their speed, Ret said. Naval Colonel Mark Cancian, currently serving as a senior consultant at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The problem with them is that they’re slow,” Cancian said. Said. “They’re propeller powered, and you know, like all propeller drones, they’re not very fast, so they’re vulnerable to being hit by missiles or aircraft guns.”

Where did Russia get them?

US officials confirmed to NPR that the drones used in these attacks were Iranian, but Iran continued to deny its involvement and working relationship with Russia.

“One of the reasons why Russia bought or bought weapons from Iran was that they were using up their cruise and ballistic missile stocks very quickly and could not replenish these stocks,” Nadimi said. Said. “Well [they have] resorted to much cheaper Iranian options.”

The Iranian government has flatly refused to supply Russia with drones used in Ukraine.

Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Iran has repeatedly declared that it has no side in the Russia-Ukraine war. Iran did not give weapons to both warring parties.” He said on Twitter.

Although Iran denies it, the Ukrainian government estimates that Russia has ordered 2,400 of these drones.


A police expert holds a drone fragment with the handwritten words “For Belgorod. For Luch” following a drone attack in Kiev on Monday.

Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images


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Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images


A police expert holds a drone fragment with the handwritten words “For Belgorod. For Luch” following a drone attack in Kiev on Monday.

Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

Can Ukraine withstand these attacks?

Both Nadimi and Cancian compared Russia’s decision to target cities while losing on the front lines, with The Blitz, the German bombing campaign targeting London in WWII.

“It seems the Russians are using cruise missiles the same way they use them – that’s to hit major cities, presumably to scare off the Ukrainian population,” said Cancan. “Ukrainians are unlikely to be offended. Morale is unlikely to be broken.”

By focusing on cities, Cancian added that the Ukrainian military will have more time to regroup on the front lines, similar to Britain’s recovery in WWII.

Nadimi said he believes Ukraine can do the same, just as it has overcome threats to the British capital.

At the same time, the US has accelerated the delivery of NASAMS, the same ground-based air defense systems used to protect the White House in Washington DC, and the systems are expected to be in Ukraine. A few weeks.

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