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Moscow steps up assault on Ukraine, attacks Kyiv with a drone barrage

Ukrainian Air Force says it has shot down 52 out of 54 Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones aimed at targets in central Ukraine

Marc Santora, Andrés R. Martínez Kyiv Published 29.05.23, 04:22 AM
Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin File Photo

Explosions echoed across Ukraine’s capital for hours before dawn on Sunday as air defence teams raced to combat the largest swarm of Russian attack drones targeting Kyiv since the war began more than 15 months ago.

The Ukrainian Air Force said it had shot down 52 out of 54 Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones aimed at targets in central Ukraine, describing the number launched as a record. More than 40 drones were intercepted over the capital, where city officials said at least one person had been killed and another injured, probably by falling debris.


As Ukraine draws closer to launching a counteroffensive aimed at reclaiming land lost in the first months of the war, Moscow has stepped up its assaults on Kyiv. The capital has been attacked 14 times this month by waves of Russian drones, cruise missiles and sophisticated ballistic missiles.

“This was the largest-ever drone attack on the capital since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, particularly using Shahed loitering munitions,” the Kyiv military administration said in a statement.

Ukraine’s complex air defence network has become adept at intercepting the Russian barrages, often shooting down the majority of the dozens of drones and missiles. While nearly every assault on Kyiv in May has been thwarted, the attack on Sunday was the first to result in the loss of life.

One person died and another was hospitalised after debris from a downed drone hit a seven-story nonresidential building, the Kyiv military administration said in a statement. It said the roof of a shopping mall caught fire and a warehouse was set ablaze. Emergency crews were still assessing damage around the city on Sunday morning and warned there might be more casualties.

The assault on the capital came as Ukrainians prepared to mark the city’s founding 1,541 years ago, a holiday traditionally celebrated on thelast Sunday in May. “The history of Ukraine is a longstanding irritant for complex Russians,” Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, said after the assault, vowing revenge.

In the latest attack, air alarms sounded in Kyiv at around 1am on Sunday as the first wave of Shahed-136drones streaming towards the city was detected. “The routes of these aircraft were somewhat unconventional,” Natalia Humeniuk, the spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern command, said in an appearance on national television. “They tried to bypass the southern air defence as much as possible, as evidenced by the fact that they flew mainly over the temporarily occupied territories and then dispersed across Ukraine,” she added, saying that the drones had hugged riverbeds in an attempt to evade radar. At around 2am, the skies above Kyiv lit up with tracer fire as the Ukrainian air defence teams took aim at the drones over the heart of the city.

New York Times News Service

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