Ukraine war: Kyiv hit by biggest drone attack since war began

A police officer walks past a kindergarten that was heavily damaged by a drone strike. with a hollowed-out side.
Image caption,A kindergarten was heavily damaged by the latest Russian drone strike on Kyiv

Russia has launched its biggest drone attack on Kyiv since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine began last year, the city’s mayor has said.

Residents were woken by explosions before dawn on Saturday, and for more than six hours, the booms of Kyiv’s air defences echoed through the city.

There was wave after wave of attacks from the north and east.

Officials said more than 75 Iranian-made Shahed drones were fired at the capital – all but one were shot down.

With Russia’s dwindling missile stocks, Shahed drones are seen as a cheap alternative. They are slower than ballistic missiles and have a distinctive wingspan.

It was a night where the whines of their engines blended with the booms of the city’s air defences.

As ever, even if a missile or drone is intercepted, the falling debris can be lethal too.

There have been no reported deaths from this attack, but at least five people were injured, including an 11-year-old child, Kyiv’s mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said.

A kindergarten was among the buildings damaged.

For several quiet weeks, Moscow had been suspected of stockpiling missiles. That abruptly ended this morning.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the strikes an act of “wilful terror” and said that his country will “continue to work to unite the world in defence against Russian terror”.

He is trying to secure continued Western support as well as negotiate Ukraine’s path to being a possible member of the European Union.

President Zelensky also noted that the attack came on the same day that Ukraine commemorates the 1932-1933 Holodomor famine – brought on by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin – which killed several million Ukrainians.

As winter continues to bite, it had been feared that Russia would resume its tactic of targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. With 16,000 homes being left without power in the central Kyiv region, this appears to be the case.

However, if the aim of Moscow’s strategy last year was to deprive Ukrainians of much-needed power and water, it ultimately failed as authorities learnt to quickly repair damaged pipes and powerlines.

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