• A downed Russian Shahed drone was reportedly found with a Ukrainian SIM card inside.
  • This suggests the tech was used to pilot the attack drone, war analysts said. 
  • Last month, Russia launched its largest drone attack against Kyiv in the war so far. 

One of Russia’s downed Shahed drones was reportedly found this week with a Ukrainian SIM card inside, suggesting that the technology was used to pilot the explosive attack drone, according to war analysts.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington, DC-based think tank, said in an assessment published on Thursday that Russian forces were reportedly using SIM cards from Kyivstar, the largest telecommunications operator in Ukraine, “to control Shahed drones” in Moscow’s grinding war against Kyiv.

ISW cited a Ukrainian source that reported on Wednesday that “a downed Russian Shahed drone included a Kyivstar SIM card, which reportedly allows Russian forces to exploit the Kyivstar mobile network to track the drone’s location and change its flight path.”

Independent Russian media outlet Meduza reported that Kyivstar said in a post to X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, that it is working with law enforcement agencies to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ignat said Ukraine is probing what Russia’s military’s capabilities are with a Ukrainian SIM card and access to the internet on Ukrainian territory as well as whether drones could be operated in this way, according to Meduza.

Last month, Russia launched its largest drone attack against Kyiv since the Kremlin invaded the Eastern European country in February 2022.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a post on X at the time that the country’s Armed Forces and Air Defense system shot down 71 out of 75 Shahed drones launched by Russia into Ukrainian territory on the night of November 25.

Mykhailo Shamanov, a spokesperson for the Kyiv city military, told CNN that the drone attack on the Ukrainian capital is the fourth from Russia in the last month.