SOFREP has previously reported about Russia’s acquisition of Iranian ammunition as well as their deal with North Korea to acquire more weapons. There have been reports denying the Iranian deal, but new photos from the Ukrainian Armed Forces confirm Russia has been doing deals with Iran to support its frontlines.
A couple of hours ago, the Ukrainian Armed Forces reported that there’s a high probability that the Russian forces have used Iran’s loitering munition unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) HESA Shahed-136. Ukrainian military engineer named “Maxim,” said the photos show debris of the Shahed-136 in the vicinity of the recently liberated region, Kupyanks, Kharkiv Oblast.
“With a high degree of probability, we can say the Armed Forces of Ukraine have destroyed an Iranian UCAV near Kupiansk for the first time. Having studied the appearance of the drone’s wing elements, one can confidently state it is the first time the Ukrainian Army destroyed an Iranian UCAV. We are talking about the Shahed-136 long-range suicide drone,” the report states.
Spotted Iran striker UAVs in Kupyansk region. Presumably used by Russian forces. pic.twitter.com/xBVtuifvVS
— Максим (@kms_d4k) September 13, 2022
The Cyrillic inscription “M214 Gran-2” was also seen on the remains of the device, but the appearance, length, and overall structure are similar to Iran’s long-range attack kamikaze drones (Shahed-136). The Shahed-135 was developed to perform as a swarming drone with multiple instances of being launched during an attack.
The munition design was created to bypass aerial defenses and “overwhelm ground targets,” but it did not seem to work with the Ukrainians who were countering the Shahed with US-donated HIMARS.
The Shahed-136 has a broad-area, delta-wing platform with stabilizing rudders. Its fuselage is centralized and blended into the wings to produce an “elegant shape.” Meanwhile, the nose section has a warhead as well as an optics system for precision attacks. The engine is seated at the rear of the fuselage that features a two-bladed propeller, according to reports.
🚨🇮🇷🇺🇦 Ukraine confirms first evidence of Iranian suicide drones used by Russia.
The remains of Iran’s Shahed-136 drones were recovered in Kupyansk after it struck Ukrainian forces.
The same drones were used to attack Saudi Arabia's Aramco in Yemen war. pic.twitter.com/ayKd5EmrwK
— Terror Alarm (@Terror_Alarm) September 13, 2022
The Shahed-136 is just one of the many artillery and munitions being collected by Ukrainian forces as they fully liberate the Kharkiv region. Still, this shows how Iran is willing to circumvent existing sanctions to stay on good terms with Russia. However, with the Russian surrender in Kharkiv (and potentially Kherson and Donbast in the coming weeks), it is uncertain whether Iran will still continue with the “alliance” tirade as the war progresses.
Russia’s on the Hunt for Weapons
While the US and Europe continue to push for speedy transfer of artillery to Ukraine, Russia’s scouring for partner nations to acquire weapons from. While they were working with poorly maintained and outdated weapons (with some of the tanks dating back to World War II), it’s no wonder they’re contacting nations like Iran and North Korea, trying to find modern weaponry to supply their squadrons.
“It’s a mystery what the Russians have left,” said Pierre Grasser, a researcher associated with Paris’ Sorbonne University.
“They had enough supplies for their original plan,” he said. “But the fact is that the war is lasting longer than expected and the destruction of their reserves by U.S.-made HIMARS rockets is reshuffling the deck.”
“Moscow doesn’t have many allies that can supply it or come to the aid of its manufacturers,” he added. And “China still refuses to get involved beyond the diplomatic field.”
Additionally, if Moscow starts depending on Pyongyang, it is doubtful for North Korea to keep a steady quantity of exports the Russians’ need for the battlefield. North Korea is an extremely isolated nation, so when it comes to having advanced tech that can combat fighter jets, drones and HIMARS, it is highly unlikely their munitions will make a dent in the war. Additionally, if they will supply Russia with weapons, it will be “just enough to refill stocks for a few weeks,” Grasser added.
On the other hand, the US announced that it would supply another $675 million worth of military equipment to Ukraine.