(The Hill) – Ukrainian officials said Russia killed at least four people on Monday when a so-called kamikaze drone detonated in Kiev, the latest apparent use of an unmanned explosive device.
Officials suggested the strike – one of 28 drones targeting the Ukrainian capital on Monday – appeared to involve Iran’s Shahed-136 drone, with video showing the plane descending rapidly towards its target in the city centre.
“All night and all morning, the enemy is terrorizing the civilian population. Kamikaze drones and rockets are attacking all of Ukraine. A residential building was hit in Kyiv,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Telegram.
Monday’s strikes are not the first time Ukraine has accused Russia of using Iranian technology. Officials say Russia has frequently used kamikaze drones in recent days to strike targets far from the front lines and terrorize civilians.
Tehran denies that it delivered the drones, which both Ukraine and the US dispute
How kamikaze drones work
The nickname Shahed-136, also often applied to US Switchblade drones and other similar systems, comes from Japanese military pilots who flew suicide missions to attack Allied naval vessels during World War II.
The unmanned triangular drone is known to hover in the air until it pinpoints its target, then quickly descends to the ground and detonates. Russia has reportedly renamed the system Geran-2.
Ukrainian online publication Defense Express, citing Iranian data, reported it The Shahed-136 is about 11 feet long with a wingspan of about eight feet, weighing about 440 pounds.
The data reportedly shows the drone can travel up to about 115 miles per hour and fly up to about 1,500 miles, although the publication expressed skepticism about Iran’s estimates.
The British Ministry of Defense also acknowledged the reported range, although intelligence reports suggest that the drone has only a small explosive payload.
British intelligence reports indicate that drones are slow and fly at low altitudes, making them vulnerable to destruction by conventional air defenses.
The video he posted Oleksiy Biloshitskyi, head of Ukraine’s Patrol Police Directorate, appears to show Ukrainians shooting down one of the Iranian drones launched in Kiev on Monday.
“It is unlikely to fulfill satisfactorily the deep-strike function for which Russia probably sought to use it,” said a British intelligence report released last week.
How Ukraine and the USA are reacting
The White House warned of the sale of Iranian drones to Moscow in Julyand Biden administration officials confirmed in late August that the first shipment of drones had arrived in Russia.
Iran has denied supplying the drones, but White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday accused Tehran of lying.
“There is extensive evidence of their use by Russia against military and civilian targets there,” Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday.
U.S. officials say Russia wanted the technology as it looked to address weapons shortages caused by the months-long war.
Zelensky has indicated for weeks that Russia began launching drones as Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated the invasion by annexing four Ukrainian regions, mobilizing up to 300,000 reservists and threatening to use nuclear weapons.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine September 23 announced that it is reducing the number of diplomatic staff at the Iranian embassy in Kyiv, calling Iran’s supply of drones a “hostile act that severely damages Ukraine-Iran relations.”
Last week, Zelensky told Group of Seven (G7) leaders that Ukrainian intelligence showed that Russia had ordered 2,400 drones from Tehran.
Shahed drones have apparently been successful in many cases, including in Kiev on Monday, although US intelligence suggests the drones have also judged to have “numerous failures.”
But the strikes have already caused death and destruction across Ukraine, prompting Zelensky to appeal for a stronger air defense system from the West.
“Since yesterday, the enemy has used more than a hundred cruise missiles and dozens of different drones, including the Iranian ‘Shahedas’,” Zelensky said. he said at the G7 meeting. “And every ten minutes I get a message that the enemy is using Iranian ‘Shahedes’.”
US officials said they did works to provide eight National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASMS) to Ukraine, although most of those deliveries are expected to take months to arrive.
After the strikes on Monday in Kiev, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Iran’s alleged role as Ukraine’s foreign minister said he had asked European Union leaders to impose sanctions on Iran in response.
Dozens of people, including children, were killed and injured, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “A third of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been affected. The buildings of two diplomatic missions in Kyiv were damaged. Providing weapons to wage an aggressive war in Ukraine and kill Ukrainian citizens makes Iran complicit in the crime of aggression, war crimes and terrorist acts of Russia against Ukraine.”