Kiev western allies grow wary, weary of low-cost 'Iranian drones': NYT
The report notes that downing a drone with an anti-air missile is seven times more expensive than launching one.
The low cost of Iranian-made drones allegedly used by Russia, as opposed to the cost of the missiles used by Kiev to counter them, is creating a "growing problem for Ukraine and its allies", The New York Times reported on Thursday.
"Ukraine is getting more and more skilled at knocking down drones, but there is a growing imbalance," the report added.
The cost of many of Kiev's weapons such as its anti-aircraft missiles exceeds that of the drones which might be in Moscow's favor in the long run, the news outlet said citing military experts.
Based on these facts, "some military experts wonder if the successes are sustainable," noted the news site.
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NYT detailed the expense difference between the drones and their counter missiles.
"The self-destructing drones can cost as little as $20,000 to produce, while the cost of firing a surface-to-air missile can range from $140,000 for a Soviet-era S-300 to $500,000 for a missile from an American NASAMS."
Ukrainian officials are warning that Russia is "aware of the risk that Western allies may grow weary of the cost of supporting Ukraine’s defense," which led Moscow to adopt new tactics.
According to the report, Kiev's concerns were "heightened by the transfer of leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives to the Republicans."
"For now, Moscow has changed how it is using the drones it already has in hand," NYT said.
An expert on the Russian army at CNA, a federally-funded nonprofit research and analysis organization, told the news site that Kiev is using “a zoo of different air defense systems” to counter the drone threat, "including Soviet-era and NATO missile systems, each with its own cost profile," the article added.
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Downing a drone with a surface-to-air missile is seven times more expensive than launching one, the report said citing Artem Starosiek, the CEO of Molfar, a Ukrainian consultancy specialized in military investigations and analysis.
"That is an equation that the Kremlin may be banking on," said NYT according to analysts.
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However, not all experts are deeming the expense as the major problem facing Kiev's allies when it comes to the cost of support, despite the economic crisis facing western countries and the rise of citizen's outrage regarding their policies.
According to Mathieu Boulegue, a fellow at a London-based think tank Chatham House Russia and Eurasia Programme, what is important is continued military support to Kiev, despite the cost.
“The cost is irrelevant as long as the West keeps providing military assistance to Ukraine," Boulegue said.
Western countries have been also struggling with depleted stockpiles of weapons, which in some countries is even affecting their armies to counter any future challenges.
“The problem for Kyiv is the moment they don’t have enough stock of ammunition in their air-defense chain to shoot down these drones,” the researcher added.
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Last December, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the bloc had run out of military stockpiles as it provided Ukraine with an overwhelming amount of military support.
Borrell said before a meeting of the EDA (European Defense Agency) that the war in Ukraine has depleted the EU's weapon stockpiles, showing that it lacks "critical" capabilities to protect against threats on its border.
Earlier in October, a report by US media outlet The Washington Post claimed that the alleged usage of Iranian drones by Russia in the Ukraine war poses an increasing threat to the United States and its allies as they consider it to be a show of a growing Iranian influence beyond its physical reach.
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The purported Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles' (UAV) success, The Post said, has made of Iran a crucial military ally for Russia, adding that it has also shown how Tehran has developed one of the most competent drone fleets internationally despite years of Western sanctions.
"Drones have become the spearhead of Iranian power projection globally," James Roger, an associate professor of war studies at the University of Southern Denmark, told the news outlet.
"Iran has one of the oldest and, arguably, one of the most efficient drone programs in the world."
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