Waves of suicide drones hit Ukrainian capital, 4 dead – Reuters

Waves of explosive-laden suicide drones slammed into Ukraine’s capital on Monday, setting buildings on fire and punching a hole in one while sending people rushing for cover or attempting to shoot down buildings. suicide bombers.

The concentrated use of drones was the second barrage in as many weeks – after months of aerial attacks becoming a rarity in central Kyiv. The assault struck terror and frayed nerves as explosions echoed through the city. Energy facilities were struck and a drone slammed into a residential building, killing four people, authorities said.

The drones appeared to include Iranian-made Shaheds. Intense, sustained bursts of gunfire rang out as they buzzed overhead, apparently from soldiers trying to destroy them. Others took cover, nervously scanning the sky. But Ukraine has become eerily accustomed to attacks nearly eight months after the Russian invasion began, and life in the city resumed as rescuers picked up the debris.

Previous Russian airstrikes on Kyiv were mainly missiles. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Monday’s barrage came in successive waves of 28 drones – in what many fear will become a more common mode of attack as Russia seeks to avoid depleting its missile stockpiles long-range precision.

Five drones dived into Kyiv itself, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said. In the Kyiv region, at least 13 people were shot down, all from the south, said Yurii Ihnat, spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force.

A strike appeared to target the city’s heating network, hitting an operations center. Another slammed into a four-story apartment building, gouging a large hole and collapsing at least three apartments on top of each other. Four bodies were found, including those of a 6-month pregnant woman and her husband, Klitschko said. An older woman and another man were also killed there.

An Associated Press photographer captured one of the drones, its triangle-shaped wing and pointed warhead clearly visible against the blue sky.

“All night and all morning the enemy is terrorizing the civilian population,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a social media post. “Drones and kamikaze missiles are attacking all over Ukraine.”

“The enemy may attack our cities, but he cannot break us,” he wrote.

Andrii Yermak, head of the presidential office, posted on social media that Shahed drones were among those used.

Zelenskyy, citing Ukrainian intelligence, previously claimed that Russia ordered 2,400 Shahed drones from Iran. Russia renamed them Geran-2 drones, which means “geranium” in Russian. A photo of debris from one of Monday’s strikes, posted by Klitschko, showed the word Geran-2 branded on a mutilated tail fin.

Iran has previously denied supplying weapons to Russia, although its Revolutionary Guard leader has boasted of supplying weapons to the world’s biggest powers, without giving further details.

Drones pack an explosive charge and can linger on targets before diving into them. Their explosions woke people up early Monday. Among them is Snizhana Kutrakova, 42, who lives near where one of the drones fell.

“I am full of rage,” she said. “Full of rage and hatred.”

The Russian military said it used “high-precision long-range air and sea-based weapons” to fire on Ukrainian military and energy facilities. The strikes hit “all assigned targets”, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

Iranian-made drones have been used elsewhere in Ukraine in recent weeks against urban centers and infrastructure, including power plants.

They are relatively inexpensive, costing around $20,000. Their use in swarms poses a challenge to Ukraine’s air defenses, said Ihnat, the air force spokesman. Western nations have promised to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses with systems capable of shooting down drones, but many of these weapons have yet to arrive and, in some cases, may be months away.

“The challenges are serious because the air defense forces and assets are the same as at the start of the war,” Ihnat said. Some air defense weapons supplied by the West can only be used during daylight hours when targets are visible, he added.

Russian forces also struck energy infrastructure elsewhere on Monday, apparently seeking to escalate pressure on the government in Kyiv after previous attacks that knocked out power.

Shmyhal, the prime minister, said hundreds of settlements were without power after missile attacks on critical infrastructure in the Dnipropetrovsk and Sumy regions.

The Ukrainian nuclear operator said the Russian bombing also cut power again to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, one of the most worrying hotspots of the Russian invasion.

The nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, needs energy for critical safety systems. When the bombings cut its power supply lines, the factory was forced to fall back on diesel generators – a temporary stopgap.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday there was no need for more widespread attacks on Ukraine – after a flurry of strikes earlier in the week which he said were retaliation for the bombing of a bridge connecting the Crimean peninsula to the Russian mainland.

However, Putin also said that seven of the 29 targets designated after the attack on the bridge had not been hit “as the Defense Ministry had planned”, so forces from Moscow would continue to target them. He did not specify the targets.

After months during which strikes in the center of Kyiv were rare, the attacks of last week have put the country and its capital on the nerves.

The strike on Kyiv comes as fighting has intensified in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in recent days, as well as the continuation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south near Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Zelenskyy said on Sunday there was heavy fighting around the towns of Bakhmut and Soledar in the Donetsk region.

The Donetsk and Luhansk regions make up the industrial east known as Donbass and were two of four regions annexed by Russia in September in defiance of international law.

Christi C. Elwood