Russia’s war in Ukraine: Live updates

A police officer inspects parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), that Ukrainian authorities consider to be an Iranian made suicide drone Shahed-136 on October 6.

Ukrainian officials say Russia has been deploying an increasingly familiar weapon in its attacks: “kamikaze drones.”

Most recently, the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia was hit with four strikes by kamikaze drones overnight Saturday. Authorities said Moscow has also used them in assaults against Kyiv, Vinnytsia, Odesa and other cities across Ukraine in recent weeks.

Ukrainian officials have pleaded with Western countries to step up their assistance in the face of the new challenge, in addition to developing its own technology to counter the strikes.

Kamikaze drones, or suicide drones, are a type of aerial weapon system. They are known as a “loitering munition” because they are capable of waiting in an area identified as a potential target and only strike once an enemy asset is identified.

The drones are capable of carrying precision-guided missiles and have a payload of approximately 50 kilograms (110 pounds). They are small, portable and can be easily launched — but their main advantage is that they are hard to detect and can be fired from a distance.

The name “kamikaze” refers to the fact the drones are disposable. They are designed to hit behind the enemy lines and are destroyed in the attack – unlike the more traditional, larger and faster military drones that return home after dropping missiles.

Ties to Iran: The Ukrainian military and US intelligence say Russia is using Iranian-made attack drones. US officials told CNN in July that Iran had begun showcasing Shahed series drones to Russia the previous month.

US officials later said Russia bought the drones and was training its forces how to use them. According to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, Russia has ordered 2,400 Shahed-136 drones from Iran.

CNN’s Josh Pennington contributed to this report.

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