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Russia has deployed Iranian-made drones for the first time this week, according to British intelligence reports.
“Russia is almost certainly increasingly sourcing weaponry from other heavily sanctioned states like Iran and North Korea as its own stocks dwindle,” the British defense ministry wrote in an intelligence update on Wednesday.
A U.S. official last week said that Russia had turned to North Korea to purchase military equipment, including artillery shells and rockets. The Biden administration had reported in August that Russia had received Iranian drones but ran into technical problems when trying to deploy them.
The British defense ministry, citing Ukrainian officials, said that Russia has now “highly likely” deployed the Iranian drones in Ukraine, specifically naming the Shahed-136 drone, which Ukrainian officials claimed to have shot down.
“The loss of a Shahed-136 near the front lines suggests there is a realistic possibility that Russia is attempting to use the system to conduct tactical strikes rather than against more strategic targets further into Ukraine territory,” the report stated.
The report further notes that similar drones have turned up in attacks in the Middle East, including an attack on the oil tanker MT Mercer Street last year. Two people died in the attack, which occurred near the coast of Oman.
Rebekah Koffler, the president of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting and a former DIA intelligence officer, told Fox News Digital that Russia’s cooperation with rogue nations poses “a serious risk” because it further solidifies ties between these rogue nations as well as providing Iran and North Korea a battlefield test of their weapons against NATO and U.S. military hardware.
“With Russia possessing the world’s largest nuclear arsenal and extensive know-how that Moscow, this emerging coalition — even though it’s not a NATO-style true alliance — could have destabilizing effects on the homeland and globally,” Koffler said.
“This emerging trend has far-reaching implications because Iran and North Korea are some of the most dangerous, aggressive, and reckless U.S. adversaries,” she added. “Both Iran and North Korea have been pursuing nuclear programs, seeking to target the United States and our allies. They both also routinely launch cyber attacks on U.S. networks.”
Russia will also be able to draw out the conflict in Ukraine, prolonging the attrition and potentially starving the U.S. and European allies of their own weapon stocks. Defense contractors in May warned that sustaining Ukraine’s war effort was depleting the weapon supplies the U.S. had.
A Pentagon official, who remained anonymous, in August told the Wall Street Journal in August that some munition supplies have hit “uncomfortably low” levels.