Over the past couple of months, Russia has been deploying drones against cities like Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and the southern port city of Odesa. Iran has denied exporting any weapons for use in Ukraine, but Volodymyr Zelensky’s government has still ejected Iran’s ambassador from the country.
A Ukrainian military official said Russia is using Belarusian territory to launch drone strikes. Oleksii Hromov said Iranian drones are flying into Ukraine from a military base in the Belarusian city of Luninets, 100km (62 miles) north of the border.
An investigation by the National Resistance Center portal, which was created by the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Special Operations Forces, found that the Mohajer, Arash-1, Arash-2, Shahed-131, and Shahed-136 UAVs drones that Russia is using in the war are delivered from Iran via air and sea routes.
According to the investigation, the following companies fly the drones and instructors to Russia: Iran Air (a state airline controlled by the Iranian Ministry of Infrastructure); Pouya Air (part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or IRGC); Saha Airlines (part of the Iranian Air Force); the privately owned Mahan Air.
The sea route that Iran uses to transport the drones passes through the Caspian Sea, the report claims.
The National Resistance Center wrote: “According to the documents, the Iranians transport spare parts for civil aviation through the Bandar Anzali port.
“The destination is Astrakhan or Makhachkala. They are transported on ships belonging to the Iranian Industrial Company (controlled by the IRGC).
“In early November, 200 drones are expected to arrive in Astrakhan by sea in a disassembled state.”
The NRC also claims that as Russia is actively shipping stolen Ukrainian grain to Syria on the Sevastopol-Tartus route, Iranian drones and components for them could be transported in containers from a Syrian factory in the opposite direction.
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He said: “The next few months will see something new in warfare: a true drone war.
“Getting drones from Iran shows how desperate Moscow is. The world’s largest nuclear weapons state never fully developed this key part of modern war.
“It expected to fight a glorious redux of World War Two instead.
“And while these drones are likely to continue to cause civilian casualties, they are unlikely to be game changers for Russia. Kyiv has proven adept at shooting them down and has also announced a purchase of drones designed to counter Russian drones by knocking them out of the sky and jamming their sensors.”