by Ben Cohen
Dec 27, 2022
Ukraine’s air defense forces have destroyed more than 20 percent of the drones supplied by the Iranian regime to its Russian ally, the chief spokesman for the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Tuesday.
In a statement released on the Armed Forces’ Telegram channel, Yuriy Ignat reported that 70 of the 250 Shahed drones reportedly supplied by Iran to Moscow during the last month had been put out of action.
“Over the past two weeks, Russia has attacked the territory of Ukraine with Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 strike-type drones,” Ignat said. The drones had been deployed by the Russians “to carry out strikes on our critical infrastructure,” he added.
Separately, Kirill Budanov, head of Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence, said that Russia was using the Iranian-made drones “for tactical strikes along the front line and on power plants, power line poles, and substations.” He said that more than 500 such strikes had been launched, most of which were neutralized before hitting their targets.
Budanov added that each drone cost around $7,000 to assemble, though he was unclear on what price the Russians had agreed with Tehran for their purchase.
In an interview with the Ukrainian news outlet Liga, Budanov also discussed the potential supply of ballistic missiles to Russia by the Iranian regime, claiming that Russia only had enough rockets left in its arsenal for “two or three” intense salvos. However, he argued that the Iranians were reticent about sending their Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar missiles to the Russians because of the likely furious international response.
“Iran is in no hurry to do this for obvious reasons, because as soon as Russia launches the first missiles, the sanctions pressure on Iran will increase,” Budanov stated.
Another Ukrainian analyst asserted that Iran was trying to take advantage of Russia’s weak position nearly a year after it embarked on its invasion of its southern neighbor.
“Negotiations are going on and the Russians are trying to buy ballistic missiles from Iran. The Iranians believe that Russia is in a weak position, that a lot can be shaken out of it now,” Serhiy Danilov, deputy director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies in Kyiv, said on the Espresso TV show.
“Neither side trusts the other,” Danilov added. “Both the Russian Federation and Iran consider each other situational, forced allies and partners; they know that they can quit. Russia is now weaker and Iran is trying to make the most of it.”
Danilov said that Iran’s interest in a closer relationship with Russia was based on its need for both fighter jets and nuclear technology. On Saturday, a report on Israel’s Channel 12 broadcaster, citing “western intelligence sources,” claimed that Russia planned to supply Iran with up to 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets that were originally intended for export to Egypt.