Explosive-laden suicide drones struck Ukraine’s capital as families were preparing to start their week early Monday, the blasts echoing across Kyiv and sending people scurrying to shelters.
Kyiv city mayor Vitali Klitschko said the capital’s central Shevchenko district was hit, damaging several apartment blocks and setting fire to a non-residential building. There was no immediate word on casualties. The drones’ intended targets weren’t immediately clear but Russian strikes over the past week have hit infrastructure, including power facilities, reports AP.
Witnesses posted videos of drones buzzing across bright morning skies over Kyiv and of what sounded like gunshots of people trying to shoot them down.
Explosions were heard from the same central Kyiv district where a missile strike a week ago tore a hole in a children’s playground. Social media posts showed smoke billowing in the early morning light.
Russian forces struck Kyiv with Iranian Shahed drones, wrote Andrii Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, in a post on the Telegram social media site. Russia has repeatedly been using the so-called suicide drones in recent weeks to target urban centers and infrastructure, including power stations.
Strikes in central Kyiv had become a rarity in the last several months after Russian forces failed to capture the capital at the beginning of the war. Last week’s early morning strikes were the first explosions heard in Kyiv’s city center in several months, and put Kyiv as well as the rest of the country back on edge as the war nears nine months. Monday’s blasts seemed to continue what many fear could become more common occurrences in urban centers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week’s strikes were in retaliation for the bombing of a bridge connecting the Crimean peninsula with the Russian mainland. Putin blames Ukraine for masterminding the blast, which suspended traffic over the bridge and curtailed Moscow’s ability to use the bridge to supply Russian troops in the occupied regions of southern Ukraine.
The strike on Kyiv comes as fighting has intensified in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in recent days, as well as the continued Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south near Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his Sunday evening address that there was heavy fighting around the cities of Bakhmut and Soledar in the Donetsk region. The Donetsk and Luhansk regions make up the bulk of the industrial east known as the Donbas, and were two of four regions annexed by Russia in September in defiance of international law.
On Sunday, the Russian-backed regime in the Donetsk region said Ukraine had shelled its central administrative building in a direct hit. No casualties were reported.