Russia has launched a wave of air attacks on Kyiv just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the country’s air defence units for saving hundreds of lives by shooting down a barrage of Russian drones and missiles aimed at the capital and other locations.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, air defence systems in Kyiv were engaged in shooting down incoming targets, city officials said, as air raid sirens blared in several regions.
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“A massive attack!” Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app. “Do not leave shelters.”
Klitschko said that a 27-year-old woman was taken to hospital after sustaining injuries in southwestern Holosiivskyi district. He later reported that one person had been killed in the latest Russian air attack.
Kyiv’s military administration officials said that air defence systems were engaging and destroying the incoming projectiles and falling debris had hit several districts of the capital, including the historic Podil and Pecherskyi neighbourhoods.
Residents of a high-rise apartment building were being evacuated early on Tuesday after falling debris sparked a fire, Klitschko said.
Calling it a “massive” attack launched in several waves, Serhii Popko, the head of Kyiv’s military administration, said on the Telegram messaging app that Russia conducted the assault using Iranian-made Shahed drones and that more than 20 had been shot down.
Tuesday’s attack – the third in 24 hours – marks Russia’s 17th aerial assault on the capital this month, following two attacks on Monday, which included a rare daytime strike that had forced people to seek shelter underground and sent schoolchildren fleeing Kyiv’s streets for safety.
Kyiv. Morning after sleepless night under fire. Anxiety once again…
Children running and screaming for shelter to the sounds of explosions. But it should not be like this – anywhere and never. Fear cannot be turned off – but we do not stop, we act. Ukraine continues to fight 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/wTKS3sv6qi
— Олена Зеленська (@ZelenskaUA) May 29, 2023
In his nightly address on Monday, Zelenskyy said that while some of the Russian aerial attacks, which he branded “evil”, had managed to get through Ukraine’s defences, most of the drones and missiles had been shot down.
“The world must see that terror is losing,” the Ukrainian leader said, calling for more help to further improve the country’s defences.
“There is no greater humiliation for a terrorist state than the success of our warriors,” he added on a day that saw 11 ballistic and cruise missiles fired by Russia at Kyiv shot down by Ukraine’s air defences, according to Ukraine’s commander-in-chief of armed forces, Valerii Zaluzhnyi.
The Institute for the Study of War, a think tank based in Washington, DC, said overnight on Sunday and Monday, and during the daytime attack on Monday, Russia had launched 11 Iskander ballistic missiles, 38 Shahed drones, and 40 cruise missiles.
The air attack campaign signals that Russia is attempting to weaken Ukraine’s ability to launch an anticipated offensive to reclaim territory lost to Russia, but the “prioritisation of targeting Kyiv is likely further limiting the campaign’s ability to meaningfully constrain potential Ukrainian counteroffensive actions,” the institute said.
Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s air force, suggested that US-provided Patriot anti-missile systems were behind the successful interception of incoming Iskander ballistic missiles and other weapons.
“I think you can guess,” Ihnat told Ukrainian television. “If Iskander-M missiles are intercepted, you can draw conclusions about the means that specifically targeted the objectives – ballistic targets.”
Zelenskyy also singled out the Patriot system in his Monday night message, saying that with such defences, “terror will be defeated”.
The world needs to see that terror is losing. When Patriots in the hands of Ukrainians ensure one hundred percent downing of any Russian missiles, terror is losing. When the world increases pressure on Russia, including sanctions, when the terrorist's isolation grows, when its… pic.twitter.com/KyPmzoxsPF
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) May 29, 2023