A wave of explosives-laden Russian drones hit Ukraine’s capital on Monday, killing three people, and prompting some Kyiv residents to run for cover and others to try to shoot down the incoming projectiles.
Some of the drones set buildings ablaze, while another ripped a hole in one building. The Ukrainian air force said it shot down 13 of the unmanned aerial vehicles.
The attacks came a week after Russian missile strikes broke months of relative calm in Kyiv. Ukrainian officials said the drones were Iranian-made Shahed models. Russia has used them to carry out so-called kamikaze attacks, in which the aircraft is intentionally crashed into a target.
The blasts echoed across Kyiv, fraying nerves among the city’s residents.
“All night and all morning, the enemy terrorizes the civilian population,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Telegram. “Kamikaze drones and missiles are attacking all of Ukraine. The enemy can attack our cities, but it won’t be able to break us.”
Zelenskyy, citing Ukrainian intelligence services, previously alleged that Russia had ordered 2,400 of the Shahed drones from Iran, and then rebranded them as Geran-2 drones — meaning geranium in Russian. Iran has denied supplying Russia with drones.
The drones pack an explosive charge and can linger over targets before nosediving into them. They are relatively cheap, costing about $20,000. Western nations have promised to bolster Ukrainian air defenses with systems that can shoot down drones but much of that weaponry has yet to arrive.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Monday’s barrage came in successive waves of 28 drones, with the central Shevchenko district one of the neighborhoods hit, the same area where Russian missiles struck last week. Some Ukrainians say they fear the drone attacks could become commonplace as Russia tries to avoid depleting its stockpiles of precision long-range missiles.
Klitschko said the attack damaged several apartment blocks and sparked a fire in a non-residential building. He said rescue workers pulled 18 people from the rubble of an apartment building but that two others remained trapped.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he asked the European Union Foreign Affairs Council for more air defense and supplies of ammunition, while calling on the EU to sanction Iran “for providing Russia with drones.”
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv called Monday’s attacks against civilians “desperate and reprehensible.”
“We admire the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people. We will stand with you for as long as it takes,” the embassy tweeted.
Last week’s attacks interrupted a long stretch of relative quiet in Kyiv.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said those strikes and the ones elsewhere were in retaliation for an attack on the Kerch Bridge linking the Russian mainland to the Crimean Peninsula that Russia seized in 2014.