In Kyiv and other areas deep in Ukrainian territory, which have not seen destruction since the first months of Russia’s invasion, a new threat has made itself known.

Drones carrying 80-pound warheads are falling from the sky, targeting important infrastructure 100 miles from enemy lines, according to The New York Times.

Iranian-supplied ‘kamikaze’ drones

The U.K. Ministry of Defence reported that Russia has been using Iranian-manufactured uncrewed aerial vehicles since at least August, including the self-destructing Shahed-136 model, which were used in a wave of attacks Monday.

According to the ministry, even with these Shahed-136 drones, “the lack of a reliable, sustainable, and accurate operational-level strike capability is likely one of Russia’s most significant capability gaps in Ukraine.”

The drones themselves lack technical sophistication. According to Foreign Policy they run off a two-stroke engine similar to that in a lawnmower, making the devices noisy. For $20,000 each, the Shahed-136 are launched from the back of trucks and are not particularly fast.

Even so, Col. Rodion Kulagin, the commander of artillery operations in the Kharkiv counteroffensive, told The New York Times that they drop from the sky without warning, and are accurate enough to strike American-supplied M777 howitzers in the part of the weapon where gunpowder is held, triggering additional explosions.

Iranian instructors in Russia

According to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington research organization, Russian forces may have recruited members of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to train them in the use of the aerial vehicles, specifically the Shahed-136 attack drones. Based on Ukrainian reports, these Iranian instructors may have directly controlled and monitored strikes on Ukrainian targets from Crimea and Kherson.

Swarm attacks have proven effective

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Kyrylo Tymoshenko reported on Telegram that drone strikes have targeted critical infrastructure in the Kyiv region.

Herman Halushchenko, Ukraine’s energy minister, told CNN that around 30% of energy infrastructure in Ukraine was hit by Russian missiles on Monday and Tuesday. The minister told CNN that this was the “first time from the beginning of the war” that Russia has “dramatically targeted” energy infrastructure.

In the most recent drone strike, Ukrainian Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi claimed the air defense missile battalion shot down nine out of 11 Shahed-136s, but only one strike is needed to take artillery out of commission.

CNN reports Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is asking for additional air defense equipment, indicating “Kyiv has only about 10% of what it needs to combat Moscow’s attacks.”

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