June 16, 2024

Westside People

Complete News World

Russia launches largest drone attack on the Ukrainian capital as crowds mark Kiev Day

Russia launches largest drone attack on the Ukrainian capital as crowds mark Kiev Day

KIEV (Reuters) – Russia launched waves of air strikes on Kiev overnight in what officials described as the largest drone attack on the city, but crowds took to the streets later in the day to celebrate the anniversary of the Ukrainian capital’s founding.

Ukraine’s military said it shot down 58 of the 59 drones launched, and the air force described it as a record attack with Iranian-made “kamikaze” drones. President Volodymyr Zelensky said all 36 drones that targeted Kiev had been destroyed.

The attacks came before dawn on the last Sunday in May when the capital celebrates Kyiv Day, the anniversary of its official founding 1,541 years ago.

“This is how Russia celebrates the Day of Old Kiev,” Zelensky said in his nightly speech.

In what also appears to be the first fatal attack on Kiev in May and the 14th this month, falling debris killed a 41-year-old man, while injuring several other people, said Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

Kyiv day crowds

Although exhausted from staying in shelters late at night, residents took to the streets during the day to attend live concerts, sample food stalls, and enjoy craft performances at festivities that have been scaled back from previous years.

Zelensky said: “The strength lies in the people, it is in the cities, it is in life, and when life, people, and the most important cities for culture are despised, Russia will face nothing but defeat.”

Moscow did not comment on the attacks. In a separate context, Russian media quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as confirming that Moscow’s goals in Ukraine will be achieved.

See also  What is Georgia's "foreign agents" bill, and why is Europe so upset?

Officials said several areas of Kiev, Ukraine’s largest city with a population of nearly 3 million, suffered from the nightly attacks, including the historic Pechersky district.

During air raid alerts that began shortly after midnight, many people stood on their balconies, some shouting attacks directed at Russian President Vladimir Putin and slogans of “Glory to the Air Defense,” Reuters witnesses said.

France condemned the attack in the “strongest terms”, adding that it claimed the lives of at least two people and left several wounded, in what it described as a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.

“These unacceptable acts constitute war crimes and cannot go unpunished,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Launch a counterattack

Ukraine’s air force said that Russia on Sunday targeted military facilities and critical infrastructure facilities in central Ukraine, the Kyiv region in particular – as increasingly so as a Ukrainian counterattack looms.

Zelensky said that a drone hit an unknown infrastructure target in the Zhitomir region, west of the capital.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, Yuriy Ihnat, told Ukrainian television that a combination of fighter jets and mobile air defense systems were used to shoot down the drones.

He did not say what systems were deployed. He has previously said that Ukraine is using NASAMS air defense systems to destroy Shahed drones.

On Saturday, the Ukrainian Air Force thanked the United States for sending, among other things, more NASAM systems, as well as the American mobile Stinger systems also used to shoot down drones, which were part of the April US aid package.

See also  Explosion in the French Pyrenees: Two out of seven children killed in Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque

Ehnat said Sunday that the expensive Patriot systems have made air defenses more effective and have been used mainly in more advanced weapons, such as Russia’s Kinzhal hypersonic missiles.

Reuters was unable to independently verify information about the systems used or the number of drones launched and destroyed.

Sunday’s attacks came after Kiev said combat had subsided around the besieged city of Bakhmut in southeastern Ukraine, the site of the war’s longest battle.

Serhiy Chervaty, spokesman for the military grouping in eastern Ukraine, said only one military clash took place in Bakhmut in the past 24 hours, although Russian forces continued heavy artillery strikes.

Over the weekend, Kiev signaled that its forces are ready to launch a counteroffensive as long as it has promised to retake territory Russia has captured in 15 months of war.

“Throughout its history, Kiev has seen varying activity from invaders. It survived all of them, and (the Russians) will survive,” Zelensky said on Sunday.

(Report) by Valentin Ogirienko and Gleb Garanich; Additional reporting by Oleksandr Kozukhar. Nick Starkoff, Lydia Kelly and Sybil De La Hamid in Paris; Writing by Lydia Kelly and Ron Popeski; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Christopher Cushing, Sharon Singleton and Michael Berry

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.