According to Kyiv, Russia has exhausted its stock of Shahed-136 drones from Iran.

Three weeks ago, Shahed-136 drones made in Iran were spotted over Ukraine, and its Air Force says Russia has probably used up its supply.

According to the Ukrainian Air Force, Shahed-136 drones produced in Iran have not been observed over Ukrainian skies since mid-July, and the reason is that Russia may have run out of them.

The Shahed-type loitering drones have not been seen around Ukrainian air defense positions for the last three weeks, Air Force spokesman Yuri Ignat said Tuesday at the Ukrainian Media Center.

“It’s been three weeks” since Ukrainian air defense forces have seen “the loitering drones of the Shahed-type,” Yuri Ignat, spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, said during a press conference Tuesday at the Ukrainian Media Center. “There are different thoughts and factors which indicate probably that the first shipment received by the occupiers is over [and] they ran out of them.”

Of the Shahed-136 drones, Russia initially ordered 1,700, only about 400 of which have been delivered so far, Ignat said. He said about 350 were shot down by Ukrainian air defense forces. The ones that made it to their targets caused significant destruction and terrorized Ukrainian civilians.

It has been reported that Shahed-136 drones have been transferred to Iranian proxies in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen and used in Iranian service.

The harsh weather in Ukraine during the winter also affected their use. Icing conditions and the severely cold atmosphere might have exceeded the drones’ performance envelope. Ignat, however, disagrees, stating:

“So we are being asked if the weather conditions influence or types of dust influence, so yes, the weather does influence all types of aerial projectors. But it’s been three weeks that the Russians don’t use them anymore. So we have reasons to think that the first shipment is done with.”

A Ukrainian intelligence source told The War Zone that Iran was set to deliver about 200 combat drones to Russia within weeks. However, Ignat on Tuesday did not know why Iran had not sent more Shahed-136 drones to Russia. Iran has been under intense internal and international pressure due to domestic protests and global concern about its arms deals with Russia as a result of international and domestic pressure.

According to Ignat, Russia may have used or almost finished its Shahed-136 drones, but Moscow can still manufacture new missiles.

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According to Ignat, some Russian missiles are relatively recent and are still in production. Because Russian sanctions prohibit the acquisition of missile parts and components, they will find it challenging to get them elsewhere if they are no longer in production, according to Ignat.

Despite those sanctions, Russia still has the parts it needs to build and deliver Kalibr and Kh-101 missiles, Ignat said.

Conflict Armament Research’s report, released Monday, confirms that Russian missiles fired at Kyiv on Nov. 23 were made just months before the date.

According to CAR’s latest documentation, despite months of sanctions, Russia can still manufacture guided weapons.

The CAR group in Kyiv documented remnants of two missiles fired by Russian forces on Nov. 25, two days after they had destroyed much of Ukraine’s electrical infrastructure. These missiles were KH-101 air-to-ground cruise missiles, which became operational in 2013. The markings on the remnants indicated that the weapons were manufactured between July and September 2022 and October and November 2022.

A CAR investigation found that a Russian Kh-101 missile contains “heavily reliant on components and technologies produced in the United States and Europe. Most of the components of Russian weapons for which CAR could identify a year of manufacture were made between 2014 and 2021.”

While stressing that any future Russian missile surge won’t occur immediately, Ignat emphasized that the missile route is preprogrammed. Intelligence is collected from space, air, and land about the locations of our air defense systems and their weaknesses. We know that [Monday’s assault] was not a spontaneous choice, he said. We must find a way around it, find its vulnerabilities, and discover how to get there.

Despite dire predictions that Russia has apparently still got the ability to produce some cruise missiles, it appears that it is burning through artillery ammunition at an unsustainable pace.

Avril Haines, the U.S. National Intelligence Director, said Saturday at the Reagan Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, that Russia is using up ammunition “quite quickly.”

According to a recent report by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Russian artillery fired around 20,000 rounds per day, with their peak fire rate exceeding 32,000 rounds on some days during their offensive in the Donbas about a month after their all-out invasion.

Haines declined to provide a public estimate of how much Russian artillery currently burns out of concern that the number would be misinterpreted. However, she noted, “it’s really quite remarkable…our sens is that they are not able to produce what they are burning at this point. That’s going to be a problem.”

There is also some doubt about how many additional artillery rounds Russia can produce domestically, which is why it has been obtaining some from North Korea surreptitiously. However, due to the importance of artillery in this conflict, any severe shortage of rounds would be disastrous for Moscow.

Neither side has made significant gains on the battlefield, as Russian troops continue to surround Bakhmut in Donetsk while Ukrainian forces attempt to gain ground around the P-66 highway in Luhansk.

“With the high intensity of anti-aircraft combat, it is difficult to provide an exact count, but …over 60 missiles out of more than 70 were shot down,” he said. These are numbers that impress not only the Ukrainian people but also our Western partners. Air defense in Ukraine works quite effectively. It needs to be strengthened with modern air defense equipment that we have today, which work [sic] effectively.”

He emphasized that both the German-made IRIS-T and US-made National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missiles Systems, or NASAMS, ‘were used yesterday, and they downed all the air targets they targeted. Once again, 100% of the targets were downed. Anti-aircraft guns, mobile fire teams, fighter aircraft and anti-aircraft missile troops were used in addition to everything else. The aggression was repulsed quite successfully as a result of all our efforts and means.’

A US-made Patriot air defense battery won’t be coming to help defend Berlin’s airspace to make up for the air defenses Poland recently lost. An errant missile that killed two people in Poland last month caused Berlin to offer Warsaw the Patriot system to defend its airspace.

Poland requested that Germany be placed in western Ukraine instead, but Germany shot down the request.
Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak took to social media Tuesday to express his dismay over Germany’s refusal to offer military support to Ukraine. He believes that placing Patriot missile launchers in western Ukraine would increase the security of Poles and Ukrainians, and he is seeking ways to achieve this.

Meanwhile, Russia accuses Kyiv of attacking several airbases within the country, destroying at least one Tu-22M3 Backfire-C fighter and a Tu-95MS Bear-H bomber. According to the U.S. State Department, Washington’s support for Kyiv is a delicate issue.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that the United States is not encouraging Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.

Oren said everything the world is doing to assist Ukraine is dedicated to safeguarding the country’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. He described the assistance as everything Ukraine needs to combat Russian invaders on its own land.

Despite the Russians’ talk about President Vladimir Putin visiting the Donbas, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has just been there, visiting Sloviansk in the Donetsk Region. He also saw an area in the Kharkiv Province, where he mingled with wounded troops and distributed medals to commemorate Ukraine’s Armed Forces Day.