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Shahed factory in Tatarstan hit, says Ukrainian intel, yet satellite images show no damage

It is unclear whether the factory producing kamikaze drones launched en masse by Russia will scale down production
Zelenskyy to UN: Russia understands nothing but force
The aftermath of a drone strike in Tatarstan, Russia. Photo:
Shahed factory in Tatarstan hit, says Ukrainian intel, yet satellite images show no damage

Ukraine’s attack on the factory to produce Iranian-designed Shahed drones in Tatarstan has led to “great destruction” at the plant, Ukrainian intelligence representative Andriy Yusov said on air of Ukraine’s national broadcast.

The strike is one of Ukraine’s latest attempts to strike military targets deep in Russian territory with homemade weapons amid a ban on using western weapons for such strikes.

“According to early data, a factory that assembled Shahed drones was struck. There is significant damage to production facilities there, and it is difficult to continue the company’s operations,” he said.

However, satellite images analyzed by RFE/RL appear to refute Yusov’s claims. The drone assembly shop was not damaged as a result of the strike, it follows from a comparison of satellite images from previous days.

This corresponds to reports from OSINT analyst Benjamin Pittet, who noted that only the dormitories were damaged.

Yusov refrained from comments about the type of drones, a source of speculation after the 2 April strike in Russia’s Tatarstan region 1,200 km from Ukraine’s border, RBC reported, citing the national broadcast. However, an earlier report by Forbes speculated that the strike could have been carried out with Cessna-style small planes packed with explosives with added remote controls.

Additionally, Russians had recovered the wreckage of the Liutyi drone, a Ukrainian-produced unmanned aircraft behind numerous Ukrainian strikes on Russian oil refineries, in an attack on a nearby oil refinery.

After the strike, Ukrainian intelligence refuted claims of Timur Shagivalayev, General Director of the Alabuga special economic zone in Tatarstan, home to the Shahed drone factory, of the drones containing NATO-made equipment.

He stressed that foreign-made weapons and equipment are not being used in Ukrainian strikes on Russian soil, and that the Ukrainian drone industry is developing “very dynamically.”

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy had defended the strike as well after the UN condemned the action, labeling it an attack on “civilian infrastructure.” “Russia understands nothing but force,” he said, noting that condemnations alone will not stop Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Shahed drone factory in Tatarstan

Russia used domestically-produced kamikaze drones to strike Ukrainian targets for the first time on 26 July; earlier, all the drones launched against Ukrainian civilian infrastructure and military targets were produced in Iran.

Russian media reported that the factory producing them, located in the Alabuga special economic zone, was reported to use underage labor by students from a nearby college.

Some of these students were reported by Russian media to have been injured in the strike:

Ukrainian attacks inside Russia

Ukraine has launched a series of attacks on Russian oil facilities, which, if persist, could disrupt Russia’s war machine by triggering a fuel crisis.

Expert: Ukraine’s persistent drone strikes could disrupt Russian war machine, trigger fuel deficit

Apart from oil facilities, Ukrainian drones have also targeted military production sites.

On 9 August 2023, a military factory was hit in Zagorsk, near Moscow.

On 1 October 2023, a Russian aircraft factory was hit in Smolensk.

On 30 December 2023, Ukrainian drones crashed into an explosives and microelectronics plant in Russia.


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