Ukraine has destroyed more than 300 Iranian Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones out so far, officials have said. The drones have become a key weapon in Russia’s arsenal during its war in Ukraine and have frequently been used in the past month to target crucial energy infrastructure.
However, air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told a briefing on Friday that Ukrainian forces were having significant success in preventing them from hitting civilian targets.
Speaking last week, Mr Ihnat estimated that the Ukrainian air force was managing to shoot down the vast majority of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) launched by Russia.
He said: “If we take two weeks of extreme use of our combat forces against drones (Shahed-136) and the effectiveness of their downing, then today we have a figure of 85 percent.”
On Tuesday President Volodymyr Zelensky told a conference on Ukraine reconstruction Russian rockets and Iran-made drones had destroyed more than a third of his country’s energy sector.
Speaking via video link, Mr Zelensky also told the conference in Berlin Ukraine had yet to receive “a single cent” towards a fast recovery plan worth a total £14.7billion ($17billion).
He explained: ”Russia is destroying everything so that it is harder for us to get through the winter.”
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“And so we ran in ran into the hallway and we heard another buzzing noise and then another explosion, probably 700 metres from where we live, I’m guessing about that.
“And then we heard another one a little bit later and then we heard a little bit more buzzing here and there and then they put an air raid on saying Kaliber missiles had been shot from the Caspian Sea, but they hit Vinnytsia and Lviv, they didn’t hit Kyiv.”
He added: “They sound like a little motor scooter, like a moped, like the older ones that are a little bit louder.
“One went literally went right over our place – you hear them going and then you hear the explosion.”
Iran has denied Ukrainian and Western accusations that it is supplying drones to Russia.
However, in September the Ministry of Defence suggested it was “highly likely” Russia was deploying them as its stocks of weaponry “dwindled”.
In a series of tweets it said: “On 13 September 2022, Ukrainian officials reported that their forces had shot down a Shahed-136 UAV near Kupiansk, in the area of Ukraine’s successful ongoing offensive.
“The Shahed-136 is a one-way attack UAV with a claimed range of 2,500 kilometres. Similar Iranian-manufactured systems have likely been used in attacks in the Middle East, including against the oil tanker MT MERCER STREET in July 2021.”
The MoD added: “Russia is almost certainly increasingly sourcing weaponry from other heavily sanctioned states like Iran and North Korea as its own stocks dwindle.
“The loss of a Shahed-136 near the front lines suggests there is a realistic possibility that Russia is attempting to use the system to conduct tactical strikes rather than against more strategic targets farther into Ukrainian territory.”