Russia launches drone attack on Kyiv, Ukraine hails air defences
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said explosions had rocked the central Shevchenkivskyi district.
KYIV (Reuters) - Russia launched its first major drone attack on the Ukrainian capital in weeks on Wednesday, smashing a hole in the roof of a building in central Kyiv, but city officials said air defences had prevented serious damage.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said explosions had rocked the central Shevchenkivskyi district and that two administrative buildings had been damaged, but mentioned no casualties. The air raid alert was lifted three hours after it began.
Russia, which invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, has unleashed barrages of missile attacks on energy infrastructure since October. Ukraine’s grid operator said energy facilities had not sustained any damage in Wednesday’s attack.
In one Kyiv district, residents said they heard the sound of an Iranian Shahed drone - known as "mopeds" by Ukrainians because of the loud whirring of their engines - followed by a powerful explosion at a building next to their homes.
"I was already in the kitchen - I heard everything – I heard the buzzing ‘moped’ and I ran into the bathroom," said Yana, 39, who said she had been getting ready for work.
"I want this all to be over… For (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, that bastard, to die. Those are the only emotions," she said.
The nearby brick building had a chunk of its roof missing and the windows of nearby residential apartment blocks had been smashed. Bits of brick and metal roof sheeting lay on the snowy ground and the site was cordoned off.
"Of course it was scary…. I didn’t understand at first - I heard it when I was dreaming. Then I didn’t know what to do…. I went out on the street because I thought my building had been hit,” said Zhenya, 38, another local resident.
Within the walls of the damaged building, the white tail of a drone could be seen on the ground.
It had M529 Geran-2 written on it and a handwritten message: "For Ryazan!!!", an apparent message of revenge. Russia last week accused Ukraine of carrying out drone attacks on two of its air strips, including one in the Ryazan region.
Ukrainian officials said Russia used Iranian-made Shahed drones for the attack.
Russia, which denies charges of terrorism, has recently been using long-range missiles for attacks which it says are militarily justifiable. Kyiv says the strikes are intended to hurt civilians, a war crime.
"The terrorists began this morning with 13 Shaheds. All 13 were shot down by Ukrainian air defence, according to preliminary information. Well done guys, I’m proud," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.
Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said the attack was deliberately timed for when it was dark to make it harder to shoot the drones down.
Ihnat said Russia had used about 400 drones since the first was shot down by Ukraine in mid-September and that it was unclear whether Russia was using a new batch or had not yet used up its old stock.