Kyiv hit by kamikaze drones in renewed Russian attacks

Ukrainian officials say capital was struck four times in early morning by Iranian-made drones

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Russian forces attacked Ukraine's capital on Monday for the second time in a week, as kamikaze drones rained down on Kyiv, sending residents rushing to shelters.

The new phase of the conflict drew concerns from across Europe on Monday that Iranian made weapons were being used to spread the attacks far from the current front line in the south and east of Ukraine.

EU foreign ministers gathering for a regular summit condemned the developments.

“With its drones and missiles, Iran is becoming an accomplice in the war,” said Lithuania's foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis. “There has to be a clear attribution of missile ownership by allies that are aiding Ukraine.”

Officials said the strikes damaged a residential building and the central train station, widening the targets of Russian strikes beyond the infrastructure and government buildings hit in recent weeks.

Kyiv's mayor Vitali Klitschko wrote on the Telegram messaging service that several blasts had rocked the central Shevchenkivskyi district. Several residential buildings had been damaged, he said.

“Rescuers are on the site,” Mr Klitschko said.

The drones’ intended targets weren’t immediately clear but Russian strikes over the past week have hit infrastructure, including power facilities.

“As of 9am, four strikes have been recorded in Kyiv. A residential building in the Shevchenko district was hit. Information about the victims is being clarified,” military officials in the capital said.

The head of the national railways confirmed earlier attacks “near” the capital's central rail hub.

The same district was hit by explosions a week ago, as Russia ordered the biggest aerial offensive against Ukrainian cities in retaliation for a blast on a bridge linking mainland Russia to Crimea — the peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Russian and Ukrainian forces are also involved in heavy fighting around two towns in the Donbas region in the east, officials said.

Andriy Yermak, head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's staff, wrote on Telegram that Russian forces struck Kyiv with Iranian Shahed drones.

“Russians think it will help them,” Mr Yermak said.

EU Foreign Affairs ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday are set to discuss Iran's apparent involvement in the war.

The EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell told reporters that they would “look for concrete evidence” regarding Iran's military support of Russia.

European foreign ministers will also adopt a new round of sanctions linked to Iran's brutal repression against protesters. The package targets 11 Iranian people and four entities. Their names have not yet been released.

Denmark's foreign minister Jeppe Kofod accused the Iranian government of “atrocities” against peaceful demonstrators.

Iran denies providing Russia with drones.

Strikes on Kyiv had become a rarity after Russian forces failed to capture the capital at the beginning of the war.

Last week’s early morning strikes put Kyiv back on edge as the war nears nine months. Monday’s blasts seemed to continue what many fear could become more common occurrences in urban centres.

A Ukrainian serviceman takes cover as an air raid siren sounds during a Russian drone strike in Kyiv. Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week’s strikes were in retaliation for the bombing of the Kerch bridge.

Mr Putin blames Ukraine for masterminding the blast, which suspended traffic over the crossing and curtailed Moscow’s ability to use the bridge to supply Russian troops in the occupied regions of southern Ukraine.

The strike on Kyiv comes as fighting has intensified in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in recent days, as well as the continued Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south near Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

Fighting was particularly intense this weekend in Donetsk and Luhansk, which make up the industrial Donbas, and the Kherson province in the south. They constitute three of the four regions Russia said it had annexed last month after referendums.

These votes have been dismissed by Kyiv and western governments as illegal and coercive.

Mr Zelenskyy said in his Sunday evening address that there was heavy fighting around the cities of Bakhmut and Soledar in the Donetsk region.

“The key hot spots in Donbas are Soledar and Bakhmut,” Mr Zelenskyy said. “Very heavy fighting is going on there.”

Bakhmut has been a target of Russian forces in their slow move through the region since taking the twin industrial towns of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk in June and July.

Soledar is just north of Bakhmut.

British military intelligence said Russia was facing more acute logistical problems in the south after the damage to the Kerch bridge.

Russia's Defence Ministry said on Sunday its forces had repelled efforts by Ukrainian troops to advance in the Donetsk, Kherson and Mykolaiv regions. Russia also said it was continuing air strikes on military and energy targets in Ukraine.

EU foreign ministers are expected to agree on Monday on a mission to train 15,000 Ukrainian troops and an extra 500 million euros ($487 million) in funding for arms for Kyiv.

Meanwhile, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the resulting economic fallout have thrown four million children into poverty across eastern Europe and Central Asia, the UN children's agency said Monday.

“Children are bearing the heaviest burden of the economic crisis caused by the war in Ukraine,” Unicef said.

The conflict “and rising inflation have driven an additional four million children across eastern Europe and Central Asia into poverty, a 19 per cent increase since 2021”, it said.

Unicef drew its conclusions from a study of data from 22 countries.

Updated: October 17, 2022, 8:35 PM
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