Russia uses Iranian drones in Monday attacks against Kyiv

Russia Ukraine War
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gives a speech to the media in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Ukraine’s retaking of Kherson was a significant setback for the Kremlin and it came some six weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Kherson region and three other provinces in southern and eastern Ukraine — in breach of international law — and declared them Russian territory. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) Bernat Armangue/AP

Russia uses Iranian drones in Monday attacks against Kyiv

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Russian forces attacked Kyiv early Monday in a series of strikes using Iranian-made drones and targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram that “several explosions” were heard in Solomyanskyi and Shevchenkivskyi. Some of the city’s “critical infrastructure facilities were damaged,” leaving about 3% of consumers without heat, though the water supply system remains operating as expected.

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“As a result of the attack on the capital, critical infrastructure facilities were damaged,” he wrote. “Energy and heating engineers are working to quickly stabilize the situation with energy and heat supply.”

The Ukrainian atomic energy agency Energoatom accused Russia of “an absolutely unacceptable violation of nuclear and radiation safety” for flying one of the drones over part of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in the Mykolaiv region, while the Ukrainian armed forces said Russia launched 35 Iranian-made Shahed “kamikaze” drones, though they were able to intercept thirty of them. The rockets were fired from the “eastern coast of the Sea of Azov.”

“There were no casualties,” Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv’s city military administration, wrote on Telegram. “However, debris damaged the roadway in the Solomianskyi district, as well as the windows of a high-rise building in the Shevchenkivskyi district. Unfortunately, there is a hit in the infrastructure object. Emergency services are eliminating the consequences.”

Monday’s strikes come on the heels of one of Russia’s largest missile barrages since the war began last February, which came last Friday. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said it had destroyed 60 of the 76 air- and sea-based cruise missiles fired at targets across the country from Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv, as well as in the northeastern city of Kharkiv and the central city of Kryvyi Rih, while Odesa, Poltava, Zhytomyr, and Sumy all reported strikes.

In October, Russia changed its military strategy, directing its focus to destroying Ukraine’s energy infrastructure ahead of winter. Since then, Russia has pulverized Ukraine’s energy grid often leaving millions of Ukrainian civilians without power, heat, or running water. Winter has already started, and the country is already going through subfreezing temperatures, while officials decry the system is on the verge of a major collapse, which is why the United States and allies have provided the country with millions of dollars of aid specifically to help make those repairs.

John Kirby, the White House National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters on Friday that the attacks hit “largely civilian infrastructure” and that Russia is “again trying to put fear into the hearts of the Ukrainian people and to make it that much harder on them as winter is now upon them.”

He did not announce a new military aid package despite reports that the administration is finalizing plans to send Ukraine the Patriot missile defense system. The system can require as many as 90 service members to operate and maintain it, and the training under normal circumstances takes months.

Kirby has previously warned about the growing relationship between Tehran and Moscow, specifically in recent months.

Iran has provided Russia with “several hundred UAVs to Russia,” he said. “In exchange, Russia is offering Iran an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their relationship into a full-fledged defense partnership. So I think it’s important for us to be clear, this partnership poses a threat not just to Ukraine but to Iran’s neighbors in the region.” Kirby also described Iran as Russia’s “top military backer” at the time.

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The administration said to expects Iran to continue its support for Russia’s military moving forward and that it believes Iran could Russia them with hundreds of ballistic missiles in the future, while officials have also seen intelligence to suggest that the two sides are working toward “the establishment of a joint production line for lethal drones in Russia,” he added.

“Russia is seeking to collaborate with Iran on areas like weapons development and training as part of this collaboration,” Kirby continued. “We are concerned that Russia intends to provide Iran with advanced military components. Moscow may be providing Tehran with equipment such as helicopters and air defense systems. As of this spring, Iranian pilots have reportedly been training in Russia to learn how to fly the Su-35. This indicates Iran may begin receiving aircraft within the next year, these fighter planes would significantly strengthen Iran’s Air Force relative to its regional neighbors.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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