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UK Defense Intelligence: Russia increases supply of Iranian drones

by Martin Fornusek June 13, 2023 12:49 PM 2 min read
An Iranian loitering munition flies over Kyiv during an attack on Oct. 17, 2022, amid the Russian strike on central Kyiv. (Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia is increasing its supply of Iranian-made drones by importing them via the Caspian Sea and setting up domestic production, the latest U.K. Defense Intelligence update said on June 13.

According to the report, "Russia has likely moved from receiving small deliveries of Iranian one-way-attack unmanned aerial vehicles (OWA-UAV) by air transport" to larger volumes shipped through the Caspian Sea, the world's largest inland body of water that connects both countries.

Since the invasion, Moscow has reportedly relied more often on the International North-South Transport Corridor, a multi-mode transport network connecting Russia, the Caucasus, Iran, and India.

The U.K. intelligence also said that Russia is setting up domestic production of drones with Iranian assistance.

Such drones provide a cheap long-range strike capability when Russian forces used up a large portion of their missile stockpiles.

CNN wrote on May 26 that Tehran is secretly shipping Shahed kamikaze drones to Russia through the Caspian Sea. A particular uptick in traffic was recorded in the fall of 2022 when Moscow began to use drone strikes against Ukraine on a massive scale.

CNN: Iran modifies its drones supplied to Russia to inflict maximum damage on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure
According to a new investigative report, cited by CNN, the unexploded warhead of an Iranian Shahed-131 drone discovered in Odesa Oblast was “hastily modified with poorly fitted layers of dozens of small metal fragments” that scatter over a large radius on impact.

According to the U.S. government, Iran is also helping Russia with building a drone factory in Alabuga Special Economic Zone in Tatarstan, which should become operational in early 2024.

Iran has provided Russia with weaponry throughout its invasion of Ukraine. This included Shahed drones, widely used in air strikes across the country.

Both Ukraine and its Western partners have imposed sanctions against Tehran for its support of Russian aggression.

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