Fear of Iranian drones among Ukrainian soldiers

An Iranian drone reportedly made its maiden appearance in the sky over Ukraine more than a week ago.

Sergt. Andriana Arekhta of the Ukrainian Armed Forces claims that the alleged Iranian drone attacked her special forces unit while it was engaged in combat close to the southern city of Kherson. Drones crashed into the positions of two tanks carrying soldiers, destroying them.

Radar detection of these drones, in Arekhta’s opinion, is difficult. She stated that it is a significant occurrence.

Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of deploying more Shahed and Mohajer fighter drones into Ukraine over the past week. These drones were imported from Iran. While some attacked the infrastructure, some charged into the fray and destroyed armoured vehicles and tanks.

The drones were shot down by Ukrainian air defence troops in the eastern districts of Dnipropetrovsk and Odessa, according to a speech given by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on September 23. They were identified by the Ukrainian Air Force as Shahed-136 suicide drones and Mohajer-6 reconnaissance and munitions drones.

Iranian drones are a serious threat, according to talks with a Ukrainian activist and three military. The appearance of these technologies increases Ukraine’s need for more cutting-edge armaments from the West.

The Russian side appears to be able to change the game with the aid of Iranian drones. They avoid Ukrainian radars by flying at low altitudes and being rather small. Arekhta claimed that she was able to shoot them down with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, but only during the daytime due to the lack of night vision capabilities in the US-supplied weapons.

Arekhta claims that in order to counter the new danger, Ukraine needs contemporary air defence systems and 360-degree radar.

Arekhta employs the US-supplied Switchblade 300 drone, however it is primarily a commercial system and is incapable of fending off artillery and armoured vehicles. According to her, Ukraine requires an improved Switchblade 600 drone.

Although Ukraine finally received the 600 version after several months, the United States had an agreement with the manufacturer AeroVironment to provide it.

In the meantime, Ukrainian soldiers are marching south from Kherson and east from the Oskil River into the Donbas region to engage Russian forces. Progress has slowed significantly since the initial victory earlier this month, when Ukraine regained most of the Kharkiv region. Soldiers from Ukraine are moving into the Donbass, where the conflict has been basically at a standstill since 2014.

The Russian forces are battling from bunkers and trenches that were constructed years ago, making it harder for Ukrainian forces to win the battle in the Donetsk region.

Arekhta stated that the Ukraine’s outdated Soviet tanks had numerous issues including defective aiming systems and no fire protection system, forcing them to use small fire extinguishers outdoors if they are hit. Arekhta had to use a cell phone to communicate because the tank was unable to connect to the Western-provided radio.

To counter Russian artillery fire, Ukraine claims its military require modern tanks, Bradley, and Humvee fighting vehicles.

Using Toyota vehicles and regular cars is uncomfortable, especially if Iranian drones are circling overhead, according to Daria Kaleniuk, director of the nonprofit Ukraine Anti-Corruption Action Center.

In the meantime, on September 23, Ukraine declared that it will sever diplomatic ties with Iran and expelled many Iranian diplomats to their home country after accusing this Middle Eastern nation of providing drones to Russia. Iran has been charged with selling drones to Russia by the US and Ukraine. The Iranian government has refuted this accusation, though.

Nasser Kanaani, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, stated on September 24 that Iran regrets Ukraine’s decision to downgrade bilateral ties. Mr. Kanaani urged Ukraine to display moderation in order to avoid being swayed by outside groups who wish to deteriorate bilateral relationships.

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