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Russian plant in Yelabuga plans to produce 6,000 shaheds a year

May 28, 2024

A plant in Russia's Yelabuga, Tatarstan, plans to produce 6,000 Shahed-131/136 attack drones a year in addition to reconnaissance drones, which could affect the course of Russia's war against Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing a contract between Russian plant managers and Iranian partners.

It is noted that the contract was leaked to the Prana Network and was independently confirmed by two advisers to the British government.


According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, at the end of April, the plant was ahead of its production schedule, having already delivered 4,500 of the promised Shaheds.

Ukrainian military intelligence reported that Russian soldiers are already being trained to fly drones in Syria by instructors from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah.

The article says that Russia is now producing its own warheads instead of waiting for Iranian ones, which speeds up the production of combat-ready weapons. Thus, the newest versions of the Shahed were manufactured in Russia.

The WSJ writes that early last month, mobile cameras captured a Ukrainian drone used to strike a facility in Yelabuga where Russian drones are manufactured - a high-tech college and production complex.

About 20 people were injured, many of them young engineering students hired from East Africa. Russian authorities claimed that production facilities were “not damaged,” but Ukrainian military intelligence said the explosion caused significant disruptions in production.

According to military experts, the attack highlighted an important new aspect of the war in Ukraine: the speed with which Russia can ramp up production of Iranian reconnaissance and attack drones using Chinese components, African labor, and logistics networks that Iran has honed during its longstanding confrontation with the West.

Shortly after the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukraine successfully used Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones to slow down the initial offensive on Kyiv, which radically changed Moscow's plans for the war. In response, Russia turned to Iran and gained access to its drones.

Since then, Russia has launched more than 4,000 Iranian-designed Shaheds, which allowed it to attack power plants and other important facilities deep inside Ukraine.

Russian businessmen signed a deal to build a drone manufacturing plant in late 2022 when they flew to Tehran with a lucrative offer: $1.7 billion, partially paid in gold bullion.

Author - Ihor Lontkivskyi 28.05.24

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