Ukrainian forces shoot down drones as Kyiv is hit by explosions | Ukraine

Ukraine’s military said it shot down 13 Iranian-made drones over Kyiv and the surrounding region following the first major Russian drone attack on the capital in weeks.

Wednesday morning’s assault, which authorities described as a continuation of Russia’s “energy terror” against the country, came as the United States had to decide whether to supply Ukraine with its advanced Patriot air defense system.

A wave of Russian drone and missile attacks since October have caused severe damage to Ukraine’s civilian energy and electricity infrastructure as it enters the cold winter months. UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, said the two months of air strikes had left “nearly seven million children without sustainable access to electricity, heat and water “.

A series of explosions early in the morning on Wednesday hit the capital and around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, residents of the center Kyiv posted videos in which you could hear the sound of a drone flying overhead, followed by an explosion. Residents also posted photos of plumes of smoke on the capital’s skyline.

Kyiv City Administration said two of its administrative buildings were damaged by falling debris from a drone. A Kyiv rescue service spokeswoman, Svitlana Vodolaga, told Ukrainian Suspline news that there were no casualties.

The city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, wrote in a message on Telegram that there were explosions in the capital’s central district, Shevchenkivskyi, which is home to many government agencies and buildings. An air raid alert was lifted three hours after it started.

Several this morning in the central district of Shevchenkivskyi in Kyiv. We don’t know what was hit. The sound of a drone can be heard in a video posted on Trukha Kyiv. Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko says emergency services are on the scene

— Isobel Koshow (@Ikoshow) December 14, 2022

A total of five buildings were reportedly damaged, underscoring how vulnerable Kyiv remains to Russian air assaults, even with air defenses. Footage of a building hit in the attack showed the white tail of a drone could be seen in the wreckage. It had M529 Geran-2 written on it and a handwritten message “For Ryazan!!!”, an apparent reference to what the Russians say was a Ukrainian attack on an airstrip deep inside Russia at the start. of the month.

Parts of the drone are seen at the site of a destroyed building in Kyiv. The inscription reads ‘For Ryazan’. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

“Russia continues the energy terror of the country. But we are getting stronger every day,” Kyiv region chief Oleksiy Kuleba wrote on Telegram.

Ukraine has accused Russia of trying to trigger a new wave of migration to Europe with its attacks on its energy infrastructure. The Ukrainian grid operator said energy facilities suffered no damage in Wednesday’s attack, crediting Ukraine’s air defenses with their “brilliant” work.

Ukraine has already received modern air defense systems from the west, including the United States, although the United States has previously resisted supplying Ukraine with the Patriot system and a recent attempt to Poland to get Germany to deploy a Patriot battery in the country was rejected by Berlin. .

However, US officials told CNN the missiles could be delivered within days after repeated Russian barrages against Ukrainian cities. The Patriot, believed to be the most advanced surface-to-air missile system the West has supplied to Ukraine, is generally in short supply, with US allies around the world squabbling.

Ukraine’s national security chief Oleksiy Danilov appeared to troll Russia over the delivery on Wednesday, tweeting, “Always a pleasure to watch an American classic,” along with a poster of the movie Patriot.

The Kremlin said Wednesday that Patriot missile defense systems would be a legitimate target for Russian strikes against Ukraine, if the United States allowed their delivery.

Ukrainian officials have said the country is required to use at least two anti-aircraft missiles for every Russian missile or drone and so its stockpiles are running out in the face of repeated Russian assaults.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said Wednesday morning’s attack was deliberately timed after dark to make it harder to shoot down drones. “The air defenses worked well.” he said. “Thirteen [drones] were slaughtered. »

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the President of Ukraine, praised air defense systems in a short video message. “Bravo, I’m proud,” he said.

Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, meanwhile posted a muscular emoji with the abbreviation of anti-aircraft systems, in reference to the work of Ukrainian air defenses.

The air raid sirens sounded shortly before 6 a.m. Kyiv time, and just over 10 minutes later the first explosions were reported.

The UK ambassador said she was “staying away from the windows and hearing explosions outside”.

Stay away from windows and hear explosions outside. It’s an early start today for 🇷🇺’s attacks on #Kiev

— Melinda Simmons (@MelSimmonsFCDO) December 14, 2022

The latest round of attacks came a day after dozens of countries and international organizations gathered in Paris responded to a call from Zelenskiy to help the country resist Russia’s assault on its energy grid.

In a video message from Kyiv, Zelensky said Ukraine needed help for its struggling energy sector and spare parts for repairs, large-capacity generators, additional gas and increased imports of electricity.

US officials say Moscow is looking to Iran to resupply the Russian military with drones and surface-to-surface missiles.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this story

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