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Caught red-handed: Russia using Iranian attack drones in Ukraine

written by Robert Dougherty | February 16, 2023

Ukrainian president Zelenskyy with a Shahed-131 (Geran-1) recovered in Ukraine, 27 October 2022. Photo: Ukraine presidential website.

There is now official confirmation of Russian forces using Iranian-built explosive unmanned aerial vehicles in Ukraine, according to a US Defense Intelligence Agency document released this week.

The Iranian UAVs in Ukraine: A Visual Comparison report released on 15 February, evaluates visual comparison of Russian UAVs in Ukraine and Iranian UAVs used in the Middle East.

Russian and Iran officials have previously denied allegations that Iranian drones are being used in the conflict.

“Russian equipment with Russian nomenclature is used,” Russian Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said while speaking to the international press in October last year.

The report confirms Iranian-made Shahed-136 attack drones have been renamed “Geran-2” and used by the Russians, according to photos from Iranian press and military expos, recovered Iranian UAVs from conflicts in Yemen, and recovered drones used to attack the merchant vessel Mercer Street in 2021.

Shahed-131, renamed “Geran-1”, drone components recovered from debris in Ukraine are also consistent with Shahed-131 components recovered in Iraq in 2022.

“Analysis confirms Russia’s use of various Iranian lethal UAVs in its war in Ukraine,” the report states.


“Photos of UAV debris and components from Ukraine are consistent with systems showcased at military expos and other venues in the Middle East.

“Recovered components in Ukraine and the Middle East appear to be very similar; some components even fractured in the same manner after impact (referring to the Shahed-131/Geran-1 drone).”

The report also indicates a mostly intact drone recovered from the Black Sea by Ukrainian forces in October is “indistinguishable” from Iranian-built Mohajer 6 multi-role unmanned aerial vehicles previously on public display in Iran and Iraq.

The DIA has released the report as part of ongoing transparency efforts to enhance public understanding of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s mission and to provide insights on Department of Defense and national security issues.


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