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Has Russia run out of drones? Vladimir Putin’s troops appear to have used up supply of weapon

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Has Russia run out of drones? Vladimir Putin’s troops appear to have used up supply of weapon that terrorised Kyiv

  • Russia has apparently run out of the Iranian-supplied kamikaze drones
  • Two bases in Russia struck on Monday – showing Kyiv’s ability to hit deep targets
  • Western officials said they believed Kremlin had used up all drones from Tehran
  • Iran expected to replenish Moscow’s stocks of Shahed-136s and supply ballistic missiles 

Russia has apparently run out of the Iranian-supplied kamikaze drones which caused huge damage in Ukraine’s cities.

The setback to Moscow’s blitz campaign yesterday came as a third of its airbases was set ablaze.

Two bases were struck on Monday – probably by Ukrainian drones – damaging aircraft and highlighting Kyiv’s ability to hit targets deep within Russia.

Last night Western officials said they believed that the Kremlin had used up all of the kamikaze drones supplied by Tehran.

The Iranian regime sold several hundred Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to the Kremlin earlier this year. The most effective was the Shahed-136 used to terrorise Kyiv in October and November.

Russia has apparently run out of the Iranian-supplied kamikaze drones which caused huge damage in Ukraine¿s cities. Pictured: Ukraine shows rescuers working at the site of a drone strike in Kyiv on 17 October

Russia has apparently run out of the Iranian-supplied kamikaze drones which caused huge damage in Ukraine’s cities. Pictured: Ukraine shows rescuers working at the site of a drone strike in Kyiv on 17 October

Two bases were struck on Monday - probably by Ukrainian drones - damaging aircraft and highlighting Kyiv's ability to hit targets deep in Russia. Pictured: Smoke billowing from a building hit by a drone attack in downtown Kyiv on October 17

Two bases were struck on Monday – probably by Ukrainian drones – damaging aircraft and highlighting Kyiv’s ability to hit targets deep in Russia. Pictured: Smoke billowing from a building hit by a drone attack in downtown Kyiv on October 17

The low-flying drones struck residential blocks, killing civilians. The Russians launched them in batches of ten, ensuring at least one or two evaded air defence systems. The majority were shot down.

While this tactic ensured some hit their targets, it also meant Russia expended them more quickly. The absence of Shahed-136s over Ukraine for a fortnight had prompted speculation that cold weather was compromising their effectiveness but now it is believed there are none left in Moscow’s arsenal. 

Unlike most drones which return to base after dropping their payload, the simplistic Shahed-136s are destroyed on impact.

A Russian drone is seen during a Russian drone strike, which local authorities consider to be Iranian made unmanned aerial vehicles. The drones now in short supply caused tragedy to Kyiv

A Russian drone is seen during a Russian drone strike, which local authorities consider to be Iranian made unmanned aerial vehicles. The drones now in short supply caused tragedy to Kyiv

Iran has been expected to replenish Moscow¿s stocks of Shahed-136s ¿ and to supply ballistic missiles

Iran has been expected to replenish Moscow’s stocks of Shahed-136s – and to supply ballistic missiles

Iran has been expected to replenish Moscow’s stocks of Shahed-136s – and to supply ballistic missiles.

But it may have reneged on these pledges, perhaps fearing further Western economic sanctions. It wants sanctions to be lifted in return for shelving its nuclear weapons programme.

The Russian airbase set ablaze yesterday was near the city of Kursk, just north of Ukraine. Clouds of black smoke were seen after an oil storage tank was hit. No casualties were reported.

Surrounded by sandbags piled high against more Russian bombing, a mother looks lovingly at her one-week-old daughter in the intensive care unit of Okhmmatdyt Hospital, Kyiv

Surrounded by sandbags piled high against more Russian bombing, a mother looks lovingly at her one-week-old daughter in the intensive care unit of Okhmmatdyt Hospital, Kyiv

The bases hit on Monday, however, were much further inside Russia and the attacks are expected to cause concern among civilians growing increasingly opposed to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s war. They may also force the Kremlin to move its long-range Tupolev bombers to better protected facilities.

A Western official said: ‘Russia will probably consider the attacks as some of the most strategically significant failures of force protection since its invasion of Ukraine.’

The Engels-2 airbase in Saratov region is 372 miles from the nearest Ukrainian territory while the Dyagilevo airbase in Ryazan region is 285 miles inside Russia.

Moscow said Soviet-era drones had been used in Monday’s strikes. Ukrainian special forces may also have been involved. Some aircraft were damaged and three personnel were killed at Dyagilevo.

Asked about the strikes, Ukraine defence minister Oleskiy Reznikov repeated an old joke blaming carelessness with cigarettes. ‘Very often Russians smoke in places where it’s forbidden to smoke,’ he said.

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