Vladimir Putin is reportedly stepping up his drone blitz in Ukraine with the help of “elite Iranian troops” that are training Russian forces on how to operate kamikaze drones, a news report has claimed. Recently, Ukrainian authorities said that Russia carried out three successful strikes to the west of Kyiv overnight using Iranian-made drones, damaging parts of critical infrastructure.
It has been revealed that elite Iranian troops have secretly entered Ukraine to help Putin’s horror blitz and have been training Russian forces how to operate kamikaze drones – known as Shahed-136.
The Daily Mirror reported that up to 50 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) specialists have joined Russian forces on the southern and eastern front, with hundreds of killer drones.
Iran-made self-destroying Shahed-136 – also known as a Heran 2 – were developed as so-called suicide crafts that could loiter above targets before attacking them and have recently been hammering Ukrainian cities.
The drones, which are guided by satellite navigation, come equipped with an explosive warhead and can fly at a range of up to 2,500km at 185km/h.
A Ukrainian military source claimed that “at least one of the Iranian training teams has been hit recently and they are actively being hunted down”.
He said: “We have been concerned for some time that IRGC specialists are helping Russia in their terrible attacks on civilians and they are of course being targeted.”
While Iran denied any involvement in the conflict, the source alleged Putin’s senior commanders signed up the IRGC troops, which they claimed are based in Dzankoi in Crimea and Kherson in Ukraine’s south.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s allies have vowed to supply his army with advanced air defence systems to counteract Russia’s use of Iranian kamikaze drones and missiles.
READ MORE: Putin reeling after Ukraine wreaks carnage on Russian border region
The UK announced this week that it would provide ground-to-air AMRAAM rockets and hundreds of aerial drones for information-gathering and logistics support, plus 18 howitzer artillery guns.
The rockets will work with American NASAMS air defence systems and are due to arrive within weeks.
Kyiv previously blasted Tehran for what it called “a collaboration with evil” and stripped Iran’s ambassador to Ukraine of his title over allegations that the country decided to supply Russian forces with drones.
In September, Zelensky said: “Today the Russian army used Iranian drones for its strikes (…) The world will know about every instance of collaboration with evil, and it will have corresponding consequences.”
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Putin would be crossing a “very important line” if he were to order the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Thursday, as both the military alliance and Moscow are due to hold nuclear exercises in the next few days.
NATO is holding its exercise, dubbed “Steadfast Noon,” next week. The long-planned manoeuvres are conducted around the same time every year and run for about one week. They involve fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear warheads but do not involve any live bombs.
Russia usually holds its own manoeuvres around the same time, and NATO is expecting Moscow’s exercise of its nuclear forces sometime this month. Stoltenberg said NATO will “closely monitor” what Russia is up to.
Mr Stoltenberg told reporters: “We have monitored Russian nuclear forces for decades and, of course, we will continue to monitor them very closely and we will stay vigilant – also when they now start a new exercise.”