Ukraine-Russia War: Explosions rock Kyiv, which is hit by waves of explosively-laden suicide drones

Kyiv, Ukraine — Waves of suicide drones laden with explosives hit the Ukrainian capital as families prepared to start their week early Monday. The blasts echoed through Kyiv, setting buildings on fire and sending people to shelters.

Even in a city grimly accustomed to airstrikes since the invasion of Russia began in February, such a concentrated use of drones sowed terror and frayed nerves, with people nervously scanning the skies as they sought shelter.

Exactly how many drones dived into the capital was not immediately clear. The drones used in the attack appear to have included Iranian-made Shaheds. Previous Russian airstrikes on Kyiv have been mostly rocket-powered.

In the Kyiv region alone, 13 or more drones were shot down, all flown in from the south, said a spokesman for the Ukrainian air force, Yuriy Ihnat.

A drone is seen in the sky seconds before firing at buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday October 17, 2022.

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Other drones came through. The capital’s central Shevchenko district was among the affected areas, with apartment blocks damaged and one non-residential building set on fire, Kyiv City Mayor Vitali Klitschko said. He said 18 people were rescued from the rubble of an apartment building and that rescue workers were trying to extract two other people known to be under the rubble.

An Associated Press photographer, who was out shooting morning scenes of Kyiv, caught one of the drones on camera, its triangular wing and pointed warhead clearly visible against the blue sky. Drones came in waves, humming overhead, their engines humming furiously.

There was no immediate news of casualties. The drones’ intended targets weren’t immediately clear, but Russian airstrikes over the past week have hit infrastructure, including power plants. A drone that struck an apartment building caused at least three apartments to collapse completely, leaving a gaping hole. Rescue workers scrambled on the rubble and searched for victims amid gray smoke.

“All night and all morning the enemy terrorizes the civilian population,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a social media post. “Kamikaze drones and missiles are attacking all of Ukraine.”

“The enemy can attack our cities, but he will not be able to break us,” he wrote.

Video posts on social media showed drones buzzing over the capital and smoke billowing in the early morning light. The sound of sustained gunfire, apparently trying to shoot down a drone, was also heard at one post.

The Iranian-made Shaheds, which Russia has renamed the Geran-2 drones, carry an explosive charge and can linger over targets before crashing into them. They can be fired from racks in succession. Their distinctive A-shaped wing makes them easily identifiable. Andrii Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, also confirmed in a social media post that Shahed drones were among the drones used in the attack on Kyiv.

Iran has previously denied supplying arms to Russia, although its Revolutionary Guard chief has boasted about supplying arms to world leaders, without elaborating.

The drones have also been used repeatedly by Russia elsewhere in Ukraine in recent weeks to attack urban centers and infrastructure, including power plants. They are comparatively cheap at around $20,000 and can be used in swarms.

Their numbers pose a challenge to Ukraine’s air defenses, said Ihnat, the spokesman for the air force. Some air defense weapons supplied by Western nations can only be used during the day when targets are visible, he added.

Western nations have promised to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses with systems capable of shooting down drones, but much of those weapons have yet to arrive and in some cases may be months away.

“The challenges are serious because the air defense forces and means are the same as at the beginning of the war,” Ihnat said.

Strikes in central Kyiv had become a rarity in recent months after Russian forces failed to capture the capital earlier in the war. Early-morning strikes last week were the first blasts to be heard in central Kiev in several months, putting Kyiv and the rest of the country on edge again. Monday’s blasts appeared to be continuing, leading many to fear it could be more common in urban centers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week’s strikes were in retaliation for the bombing of a bridge connecting the Crimean Peninsula to mainland Russia. Putin has accused Ukraine of staging the blast that disrupted traffic across the bridge and restricted Moscow’s ability to use the bridge to supply Russian troops in the occupied territories of southern Ukraine.

The attack on Kyiv comes as fighting has intensified over the past few days in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as the continued Ukrainian counter-offensive to the south near Kherson and Zaporizhia. Zelenskyy said in his speech on Sunday evening that there had been heavy fighting in the Donetsk region around the cities of Bakhmut and Soledar. The Donetsk and Luhansk regions make up most of the industrial east known as Donbass and were two of four regions annexed by Russia in September in defiance of international law.

On Sunday, the Russian-backed regime in the Donetsk region said Ukraine had shelled its central administrative building with a direct hit. No casualties were reported.


Inna Varenytsia in Kyiv contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Ukraine-Russia War: Explosions rock Kyiv, which is hit by waves of explosively-laden suicide drones

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