Russia hits Kyiv with largest drone attack since invasion

Published May 29, 2023
Rescuers put out the fire in an industrial facility after a massive Russian drones strike mainly targetting the Ukrainian capital, in Kiyv, on May 28. — AFP
Rescuers put out the fire in an industrial facility after a massive Russian drones strike mainly targetting the Ukrainian capital, in Kiyv, on May 28. — AFP

KYIV: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday praised his country’s air defence forces, after the capital Kyiv saw the largest drone attack since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

The overnight attack killed two people and wounded three others.

The latest drone attack came as Russia has intensified aerial strikes on the capital this month, and warned the West against escalating the conflict after the United States agreed to greenlight F-16 deliveries.

Ukraine said the latest attack in Kyiv was “the most important” of the invasion, with more than forty out of 54 drones targeting the capital.

Ukraine says over 40 out of 54 drones targeted the capital; Zelensky praises air defence, rescuers

“Every time you shoot down enemy drones and missiles, lives are saved... you are heroes!” Zelensky told his air defence forces on Sunday morning, also thanking rescuers. This was the 14th drone attack on the Kyiv by Russia this month.

“People are in shock. There’s a lot of damage, the windows were broken, the roof was damaged,” said Sergei Movchan, a 50-year-old resident whose house was damaged by debris.

Kyiv had been relatively spared since the beginning of the year, but in May its residents have had to live with almost nightly air raid sirens and thundering explosions.

Kyiv a ‘symbol’

In Kyiv, the air raid alert lasted more than five hours as the attack was carried out in several waves. Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko described the assault as “massive” with drones “arriving from several directions at once”.

The Kyiv military administration said that “more than 40 Russian drones were destroyed by air defence” systems.

Authorities reported that two killed and three others wounded as debris of the downed drones fell in several districts.

Sunday was to be celebrated as Kyiv’s city day, usually marked by street concerts and celebrations.

“Today the enemy decided to ‘congratulate’ the population on Kyiv Day with the help of their killer drones,” the authorities said.

“Kyiv, a city of free and brave people, has become a symbol of Ukraine’s unbreakable spirit and the Kremlin’s failed imperial ambitions,” Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said.

Ukraine’s air force said that “a record” of 54 drones were launched from the regions of Briansk and Krasnodar in Russia, adding that 52 were destroyed. It said Russia used Shahed drones from Iran, and presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak to vow new sanctions against Iran.

‘Key ally’

“Tehran has become a key ally of Moscow in this war, deliberately supplying it with weapons for attacks on civilian cities,” Podolyak said.

This week Zelensky had blasted Tehran’s “support for evil” and appealed to the Iranian people.

Iran had answered by saying Zelensky’s accusation was an attempt to gain the West’s military and financial support.

After Kyiv long asked for advanced warplanes, the United States on Friday said it would allow Kyiv to acquire F-16 fighter jets, the most sophisticated material yet supplied by the West.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday said Western nations were “playing with fire” by agreeing to supply Ukraine with F-16.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2023

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