Ukraine downs 89 Iranian loitering drones Russia fired in the opening hours of 2023

Ukraine Russia drone

If such a thing can exist in a merciless and escalating military onslaught, the good news out of bomb-rocked Kyiv today is its forces shot down 44 of the Iran-made Shaded-136 drones that Russia launched overnight in its ongoing New Year’s aerial attacks on Ukraine.

Russia began battering Kyiv and eastern parts of Ukraine in the run-up to New Years with a mix of armed drones, missiles, and other aerial weapons, including 51 Shahed-136 loitering munitions supplied by Iran launched during the night of January 1 and dawn today. According to the Defense Forces of Ukraine, 44 of those UAVs were destroyed before reaching their targets.

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Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had previously said 45 of the Iran-made drones were shot down during the first day of the new year as Russia continued pummeling areas of Kyiv and cities in the eastern part of Ukraine nearest the border.

“New year, new day, new summaries: 45 ‘Shaheds’ were shot down on the first night of the year,” Zelenskyy said in a January 1 address to the nation as Russia continued sending attacking drones – some of which left wreckage with hand-written “Happy New Year” message. “I thank our Air Forces – pilots, anti-aircraft warriors. Thirty-three ‘Shaheds’ are on their account. Gratitude to the air defense of our Ground Forces for another 12 downed Iranian drones. Well done!”

Those remarkably effective defensive efforts against the craft are significant for at least a couple of reasons. 

The first is that while the Iranian drones had been feared by Ukraine as particularly potent weapons when Russia first took possession of them, Shahed-136s only began living up to their formidable reputation recently, after a few technical and piloting defects had been worked out.

The renewed success of Ukraine forces in blowing the UAVs up before they can strike fortunately not only coincides with the brutal New Year’s offensive, but also with reports that Russia has received up to 1,400 additional Shaheds from Iran to supplement its depleted initial supply.

The second reason is that many reports say Ukraine’s increasing anti-air effectiveness is linked in part to defensive systems that have been provided of late by Western allies, and are proving valuable in protecting civilian targets and covering forces launching counter-offenses, as operators become more skilled in using them.

ReadUS drone companies offer Ukraine specialized UAVs against Russians; Washington to send Switchblades 

The next few months are expected to be crucial in the conflict as it nears its first-year mark in February. Ukraine will seek to get through the worst of those winter months as best it can, while Russian drones and missile continue battering energy facilities and other critical infrastructure to undermine the nation’s defensive resolve.

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