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Russia launches ‘largest drone strike’ on Kiev since start of war

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows rescuers working at a site of a building destroyed by a Russian missile attack in the town of Vyshhorod, near Kiev, Ukraine, on November 23, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Russia has launched the biggest drone strike on the Ukrainian capital of Kiev a day after Ukraine struck oil pipeline installations and other targets deep inside Russia with a series of drone attacks.

Serhiy Popko, the head of the Ukrainian military said in a statement on Sunday that the assault was “the most massive drone attack” on the capital since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale military operation in Ukraine. At least one person died and another was injured. 

Russia's defense ministry said Saturday it had destroyed 12 Ukrainian drones and intercepted two long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles that were supplied to Ukraine by Britain. Russia also said it had intercepted US-built HIMARS-launched and HARM missiles.

The Russian drone attack came in the early hours of Kiev Day, the annual celebration of the city’s founding 1,541 years ago. The day is usually celebrated with live concerts, street fairs, exhibitions and fireworks.

Popko went on to say that the attack was carried out in several waves, and the air alert lasted more than five hours, claiming that Ukrainian air defenses destroyed more than 40 drones in Kiev’s airspace.

“Today, the enemy decided to ‘congratulate’ the people of Kiev on Kiev Day with the help of their deadly UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles],” he said on the Telegram messaging app.

Ukraine's air force also claimed that of the 54 drones launched, 52 were shot down by air defense systems, but falling debris left one person dead and another injured.  

According to Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko, a 41-year-old man was killed and a 35-year-old woman was hospitalized when debris fell on a seven-story nonresidential building and started a fire.

He also noted that the first blasts in the city occurred at around 01:00 local time, but the drones continued to arrive in several waves from various directions throughout the night.

Ukraine’s officials said the timing of the drone attacks was likely not coincidental, with the country’s chief presidential aide, Andriy Yerma saying "The history of Ukraine is a long-standing irritant for the insecure Russians."

Russia has reportedly stepped up missile and drone attacks on Ukraine this month, mostly targeting logistics and infrastructure facilities ahead of an expected Ukrainian counterattack.

Ukrainian authorities have never publicly confirmed Kiev’s attacks against targets inside Russia, but top Ukrainian officials have occasionally welcomed news of successful drone strikes on Russian soil.

Russia began what it described as a "special military operation" in Ukraine on February 24, 2022 as part of a national security measure against the persisting eastern advance of the US-led NATO military alliance.

Moscow also said the military operation was aimed at defending the pro-Russia population in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk against persecution by Kiev, and also to "de-Nazify" Ukraine.

Since the start of the war, the US and its Western allies have been providing Kiev with military equipment worth tens of billions of dollars.

Russia has repeatedly warned against flooding Ukraine with weapons, insisting the massive shipments of armaments to Kiev will only prolong the conflict.

Western weapons supplied to Kiev include advanced missile systems, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems.

Long-range attack drones have been also added to the list of Western weapons supplied to the Ukrainian forces fighting against Russian troops.

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