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Russia blitzes Kyiv with waves of drone attacks as Ukraine readies its spring offensive

Ukraine says  says only a couple of the Russian drones made it through Kyiv's anti-missile defences.  .

Ukraine says says only a couple of the Russian drones made it through Kyiv's anti-missile defences. . Photo: AP/Ukrainian Police Press Office

Russia has unleashed a major two-wave overnight air attack on Kyiv that killed at least one person as the Ukrainian capital prepares to celebrate its birthday on Sunday.

Air defence systems downed at least 20 drones moving towards Kyiv, with falling debris killing a 41-year-old man and injuring a 35-year-old woman in the city, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

Klitschko urged Kyiv residents to “stay in shelters”, saying at least two high-rising buildings in different districts of the capital were on fire after being hit by falling drone fragments.

The pre-dawn attacks came on the last Sunday of May, when the capital celebrates Kyiv Day, the anniversary of its official founding 1,541 years ago.

The day is typically marked by street fairs, live concerts and special museum exhibitions – plans for which have been made this year too, but on a smaller scale.

“The history of Ukraine is a long-standing irritant for the insecure Russians,” Andriy Yermak, the head of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office, said on his Telegram channel.

Several districts of Kyiv, by far the largest Ukrainian city with a population of around three million, suffered in the overnight attacks, officials said, including the historical Pecherskyi neighbourhood.

Screams of defiance

Reuters witnesses said during the air raid alerts that started soon after midnight, many people stood on their balconies, some screaming offensives directed at Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and “Glory to air defence” slogans.

With a Ukrainian counteroffensive looming 15 months into the war, Moscow has intensified missile and drone strikes this month after a lull of nearly two months, targeting military facilities and supplies. Waves of attacks now come several times a week.

In the leafy Holosiivskyi district in the southwestern part of Kyiv, falling debris set a three-storey warehouse on fire, destroying about 1,000 square metres of building structures, Mayor Klitschko said.

A fire broke out after falling drone debris hit a seven-storey non-residential building in the Solomyanskyi district west of the city. The district is a busy rail and air transport hub.

In the Pecherskyi district, a fire broke out on the roof of a nine-storey building due to falling drone debris, Kyiv’s military administration officials said on Telegram.

Russian forces have targeted Kyiv throughout May.

Ukraine’s head of the local civil and military administration, Serhii Popko, said on Friday that there had been 13 attacks during the month.

Separately, senior Ukrainian officials indicated their forces were ready to launch a long-promised counteroffensive to recapture territory taken by Russia since the start of the war.

Russia’s Wagner private army began handing over positions to regular troops this week after declaring full control of Bakhmut following the longest and bloodiest battle of the war.

-AAP

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