Five wounded in Kyiv by largest drone attack yet on Ukraine – officials

By Max Hunder

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine’s capital suffered what officials said was Russia’s largest drone attack of the war on Saturday, leaving five people wounded as the rumble of air defences and explosions woke residents at sunrise after a week of intensifying attacks.

Saturday’s six-hour air raid, on the day Ukraine commemorates the 1932-33 Holodomor famine that killed several million people, began hitting different districts of Kyiv in the early hours, with more waves coming as the sun rose.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that over the course of the week, Russia had carried out 911 attacks across the country, killing 19 Ukrainians and wounding 84.

“The enemy is intensifying its attacks, trying to destroy Ukraine and Ukrainians,” he said in a post on the Telegram messaging app. It was doing so deliberately, “just like 90 years ago, when Russia killed millions of our ancestors,” he said.

Ukraine’s air force initially said 71 of the 75 drones had been shot down, but subsequently revised the number of downed craft to 74. Its spokesperson said on television that 66 of those had been downed over Kyiv and the surrounding region.

Air force chief Mykola Oleschuk praised the effectiveness of ‘mobile fire’ units – usually fast pickup trucks with a machine gun or flak cannon mounted on their flatbed. According to him, these downed nearly 40% of the drones.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko, writing on the Telegram app, said the attack had injured five people, including an 11-year-old girl, and damaged buildings in districts all across the city.

Fragments from a downed drone had started a fire in a children’s nursery, he said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy also pointed out that the attack had come in the early hours of commemorations of the famine, which is recognized by Ukraine and over 30 other countries as a genocide by the Soviet Union, which ruled Ukraine at the time and sought to crush its desire for independence.

“Wilful terror …. The Russian leadership is proud of the fact that it can kill,” he wrote on Telegram.

Moscow denies the famine deaths were caused by a deliberate genocidal policy and says that Russians and other ethnic groups also suffered.

The target of Saturday’s attack was not immediately clear, but Ukraine has warned in recent weeks that Russia will once again wage an aerial campaign to destroy Ukraine’s energy system, as it sought to do last winter.

Ukraine’s energy ministry said nearly 200 buildings in the capital, including 77 residential ones, had been left without power as a result of the attack.

“It looks like tonight we heard the overture. The prelude to the winter season,” Serhiy Fursa, a prominent Ukrainian economist, wrote on Facebook.

(Reporting by Max Hunder and Nick Starkov in Kyiv; Additional reporting by Ron Popeski and Elaine Monaghan; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Alexandra Hudson, Mark Potter and Diane Craft)