Russia has launched a fresh wave of deadly strikes, firing drones and missiles on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities.
Moscow stepped up its bombardment yesterday as it prepared for its cherished Victory Day holiday today – celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.
They carried out 61 air strikes and 52 rocket salvos on strategic positions and populated areas including the capital, a spokesman for Ukraine’s armed forces said.
The regions of Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa were also targeted.
About eight Kh-22 cruise missiles were fired at the southern port city Odesa overnight, killing one person as terrified civilians across the country sought shelter in underground bunkers.
Ukrainian air defences said they managed to destroy all 35 Iranian-made Shahed “kamikaze” drones launched by Russia in its single biggest drone attack so far. But some rockets got through.
The drones are called kamikaze – a term originally used to describe Japan’s suicidal Second World War pilots – as they are packed with explosives and remotely flown into targets to detonate on impact as opposed to munitions being dropped from above.
Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said at least five people had been wounded in the capital as the latest attacks hit a fuel depot, cars, buildings and infrastructure.
Three people were injured in blasts in the city’s Solomyanskyi district and two when drone wreckage fell in the Sviatoshyn area, both west of the centre.
Some debris also fell on a runway at the Zhuliany international airport, drawing emergency services but there was no fire.
Drone wreckage also hit a two-storey building in central Shevchenkivskyi district.
The Ukrainian military added: “There are dead and wounded civilians. High-rise buildings, private homes and other civilian infrastructure were damaged.”
Terrified civilians on the ground told of numerous explosions in the city, with officials saying air defence systems were still repelling the attacks well into the morning.
The military said there were fatalities in the north, but did not provide numbers, while a food warehouse was set ablaze in the Black Sea city of Odesa.
Flames completely engulfed the facility, with pictures showing the damage posted on Telegram by Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa military administration.
After air raid alerts blared for hours over roughly two-thirds of Ukraine, explosions also sounded in the southern region of Kherson and south-eastern Zaporizhzhia.
Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed official in Zaporizhzhia – home to the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe – said the Kremlin’s forces hit another warehouse and the Ukrainian troops’ position in the small city of Orikhiv.
As Moscow’s onslaught intensified, eight spots in Sumy in northeastern Ukraine were shelled, said the regional military administration.
Putin’s military also stepped up shelling Bakhmut, Ukraine’s top general leading the besieged city’s defence said.
The escalation came after Russia’s Wagner mercenary group appeared to ditch plans to withdraw due to low ammunition.
But Ukraine launched its own attacks with strikes on Russian-held targets, especially in Crimea.
Kyiv did not confirm a role in these but says destroying enemy infrastructure is preparation for its spring ground assault.
Deputy defence minister Hanna Malyar said: “We must always be prepared for enemy treachery and defence.”
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