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A view of drones during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran.

Iranian Army/WANA handout via REUTERS

Hard Numbers: Ukraine hits Iranian drones, Lula still leading, Japan needs stimulus, Chad bans opposition

70: Ukraine's military has shot down 70% of Iranian-made drones launched by Russia since mid-September. The drones are one of several reasons the war is having unexpected spillover effects in Middle Eastern politics.

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Smoke rises after a Russian drones strike on Kyiv, Ukraine.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Drones over Kyiv, GOP’s advantage, Kishida’s church probe

Russia starts droning on

Russia attacked targets across Ukraine on Monday with Iranian-made “suicide drones,” which fly into targets and then explode. At least four people were killed when one of them struck an apartment complex in Kyiv. The building is located across the street from the offices of Ukraine’s national energy company, which may have been the intended target. That’s consistent with Russia’s recent approach of striking critical civilian infrastructure in retaliation for Ukraine’s sabotage of the Kerch Strait bridge earlier this month. Also on Monday, a Russian drone strike crippled a major sunflower oil export terminal in the southern city of Mykolaiv, raising the prospect of a renewed turbulence in prices for cooking oil, a staple in kitchens around the world. Tehran denies supplying the drones, but experts say they are clearly Shahed-136 drones from Iran. Until now, drones have been deployed to the most devastating effect by the Ukrainians, but Russia — suffering military setbacks on the ground and unable to establish aerial dominance — could be seeking a way to strike lots of targets crudely and at a relatively low cost. Although drones are slow-moving and easier to shoot down than jets or missiles, Ukraine is still calling for better air defenses overall. See our recent interview with a Ukrainian drone operator here.

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