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Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

A fragment of a kamikaze drone after the Russian attacks in Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 17. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukraine has repeatedly asked its allies to supply it with more air defense systems and ammunition after Russia stepped up its use of “kamikaze drones” in its brutal assault against the country.

Kyiv says Moscow has used Iranian-supplied kamikaze drones in strikes against Kyiv, Vinnytsia, Odesa, Zaporizhzhia and other cities across Ukraine in recent weeks, and pleaded with Western countries to step up their assistance in the face of the new challenge.

Drones have played a significant role in the conflict since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February, but their use has increased since Moscow acquired the new drones from Iran over the summer.

What are kamikaze drones? Kamikaze drones, or suicide drones, are a type of aerial weapon system. They are known as a loitering munition because they are capable of waiting for some time in an area identified as a potential target and only strike once an enemy asset is identified.

They are small, portable and can be easily launched, but their main advantage is that they are hard to detect and can be fired from a distance.

Why are they called “Kamikaze”? The name “kamikaze” refers to the fact the drones are disposable. They are designed to hit behind enemy lines and are destroyed in the attack — unlike the more traditional, larger and faster military drones that return home after dropping missiles.

Which drones is Russia using in Ukraine? The Ukrainian military and US intelligence say Russia is using Iranian-made attack drones. US officials told CNN in July that Iran had begun showcasing Shahed series drones to Russia at Kashan Airfield south of Tehran the previous month. The drones are capable of carrying precision-guided missiles and have a payload of approximately 50 kilograms (110 pounds).

In August, US officials said Russia had bought these drones and was training its forces how to use them. According to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, Russia has ordered 2,400 Shahed-136 drones from Iran.

Iran has denied supplying weapons to Russia: But evidence points to the contrary. Ukraine claimed its forces had shot down one of these drones for the first time last month near the city of Kupyansk in Kharkiv. There have been more reported attacks since then. Kyiv’s military said Wednesday it had downed 17 Shahed-136 drones that day alone. According to photos released by Ukrainian authorities, Russia has rebranded the Shaheds and is using them under the name of “Geran.”

US officials say there has been “some evidence already” that the Iranian drones “have already experienced numerous failures” on the battlefield.

Read more here.

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