Drones attacked Kyiv early Monday, days after the Ukrainian capital withstood one of the biggest missile attacks since the start of Russia’s February invasion.
The latest strikes came as Russian President Vladimir Putin travels to Belarus, Ukraine’s neighbor in the north, where Moscow’s troops stationed as part of a regional force are due to hold military exercises.
“During the air alert, 23 enemy UAVs were recorded in the sky above the capital. Air defence destroyed 18 drones,” the Kyiv city military administration said on social media.
It added that the Russian forces were using barrage ammunition from “Shaheds,” Iranian-made weapons that have pummelled the capital in recent weeks.
Kyiv’s civil administration announced an initial air alert at 1:56 am (2356 GMT) which lasted for just over three hours. A second siren at 5:24 am (0324 GMT) was called off within a half hour.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko confirmed that “explosions” had occurred in the capital’s central Shevchenkivskyi and the Solomianskyi district in the west.
He said a critical infrastructure facilities were “damaged” but there were no known casualties.
Ukrainian energy operator DTEK said emergency power cuts will be carried out in the capital following the attack.
Ukraine has been subjected to frequent and deadly aerial attacks in the 10 months since Russia’s invasion in late February.
VIDEO: A Ukrainian air defense missile shoots down an Iranian doodlebug flying bomb over Kyiv Oblast in the early hours of Dec. 19.
— Euan MacDonald (@Euan_MacDonald) December 19, 2022
After a series of key battlefield setbacks and lost territory this summer and autumn, Moscow pivoted strategies and stepped up its aerial campaign.
But with temperatures dropping, the missile and drone attacks have plunged cities around the country into darkness, and severed water and heat supplies to millions of Ukrainians.
Putin to Visit Belarus
France and the European Union have said Russia’s assault on civilian infrastructure constitutes war crimes, with the bloc’s foreign policy chief calling the bombings “barbaric.”
After a major assault on multiple cities involving more than 70 missiles on Friday, the national electricity operator was forced to impose emergency rolling blackouts as it raced to repair the battered energy grid.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said as of Sunday evening, nine million people have had their energy restored.
In his nightly address, Zelensky also said the situation on Ukraine’s border with Russia and Belarus was a “constant priority.”
“We are preparing for all possible defence scenarios,” Zelensky said, adding that the border situation was discussed at a meeting with his military commanders.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, is a long-time Kremlin ally and allowed Russian troops to use Belarusian territory as a launchpad for Moscow’s invasion.
Lukashenko is hosting Putin in the capital Minsk on Monday, in what will be the Russian leader’s first visit to Belarus in over three years.
Earlier on Monday, the Interfax news agency cited the defense ministry in Moscow as saying that Russian troops will conduct military exercises in Belarus.
In October, Belarus announced the formation of a joint regional force with Moscow with several thousand Russian servicemen arriving in the ex-Soviet country.
It did not say when and where the drills will take place and how long they will last.
The deployment of Russian troops in Belarus had raised fears that Belarusian troops could join them in their offensive in Ukraine.