Russia warns of UAV threats
Russia is concerned about the threat of UAVs used for aggressive purposes following recent attacks on its bases in Syria, the Russian MoD announced on 11 January.
Ten UAVs equipped with explosives attacked Russia's airbase in Hmeimim in the early hours of 6 January, while three others targeted its naval base in the port of Tartus, according to the MoD.
The MoD said there were no casualties or damage in the incidents, but warned that similar technology could be used to wage terror anywhere in the world.
Maj Gen Alexander Novikov, head of the UAV department of the Russian General Staff, said: ‘There is a real threat linked to using UAVs for terrorist purposes anywhere in the world. Until now, fighters have used UAVs primarily for aerial examination. There were only isolated incidents when they were used for attacks.’
He said both the UAVs that attacked the Russian bases had ten explosive devices each weighing 400g and were filled with what he called ‘small metal balls’.
According to Novikov, creating this sort of weapon is impossible in home-made conditions. He said that they could have been made ‘with the participation of specialists educated in countries that make and use this sort of UAV’.
The Russian military is investigating which country created the drones, Novikov added.
Igor Konashenkov, spokesperson for the Russian MoD, said: ‘The fact that the terrorists received the method to assemble the pilotless UAVs from abroad shows that the threat is not only in Syria. This can happen in other countries and not only against military targets. Serious attention and organisation on the international level is needed to neutralise such threats.’
On 10 January, the MoD said the UAVs were sent from Syria's Idlib province, a ‘de-escalation’ zone controlled by anti-Damascus fighters.
Idlib has been a source of tension between regime-backer Russia and rebel-supporter Turkey, with Ankara accusing the Syrian regime of stepping up its offensive on key rebel-held areas there.
After two years of Russian military support for the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, President Vladimir Putin announced in mid-December a partial withdrawal of forces from the country, saying their task had been largely completed.