Ukrainian officials said Thursday the country’s capital region was hit by Iranian-made drones operated by Russian forces, while Ukraine’s military said Russian missiles had hit 40 different settlements throughout the country during the past day.
Deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office Kyrylo Tymoshenko said the drones hit “critical infrastructure facilities” around Kyiv.
Officials described the drones as so-called kamikaze aircraft, which carry explosives and crash themselves into a target.
Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Sienkovych also reported Thursday overnight shelling in the southern Ukrainian city that destroyed a five-story apartment building.
The aerial attacks came as Ukrainian partners worked to supply additional air defenses to the country.
“The more audacious and cruel Russian terror becomes, the more obvious it is to the world that helping Ukraine to protect the sky is one of the most important humanitarian tasks for Europe of our time,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday.
Britain announced Thursday it would send Ukraine rockets capable of shooting down cruise missiles, as NATO defense ministers gathered in Brussels to discuss support for the Ukrainian military.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday that while Russian President Vladimir Putin “tries to force untrained, unwitting Russian civilians to the front lines” through the conscription of 300,000 reservists, “Ukraine has shown the world that the military and military power of a free people fighting for their democracy and their sovereignty prevails.”
“Their courage inspires us all,” Austin said. “Putin chose war. But Ukraine chose to defend itself. And it has done so magnificently.”
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, accused Russia of committing war crimes with its recent attacks.
He said Moscow “has increased their strikes on civilian infrastructure, power generation, and dams. Russia has deliberately struck civilian infrastructure with the purpose of harming civilians. They have targeted the elderly, the women, and the children of Ukraine. Indiscriminate and deliberate attacks on civilians as targets is a war crime in the international rules of war.”
Putin has said Russia’s missile attacks this week on cities throughout Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, came in direct response to the truck bombing last Saturday that destroyed part of the strategic Kerch Bridge linking mainland Russia with the Crimean Peninsula. Russia seized the peninsula in 2014.
On Wednesday, Moscow’s FSB security service announced it has arrested eight people, including five Russians, linked to the incident. It said three Ukrainians and Armenians helped carry out the attack.
The FSB statement accused Ukraine’s military intelligence service of launching the attack, what it characterized as a “terrorist act.” The FSB blamed it on explosives hidden in the back of a cargo truck that was detonated on the bridge.
The FSB contended that a 22-ton bomb deployed in the attack was shipped from the Ukrainian port of Odesa before following a circuitous route through Bulgaria, Armenia and Georgia.
Ukrainian officials have strongly signaled they carried out the attack but not officially claimed responsibility. Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs called the Russian investigation “nonsense.”