Ukraine’s military said Sunday it had thwarted a major Russian drone attack on the capital Kiev overnight, the latest barrage of a campaign aimed in part at destroying military and energy infrastructure but apparently also aimed at terrorizing and demoralizing the local population.
The military said it had shot down 26 of 33 drones launched in the capital. The fate of the other seven drones was unclear. Debris fell in several districts in or near central Kiev, injuring one person and damaging a residential building, officials said. The reports had not been independently verified.
“Drones entered the capital in groups and from different directions,” said Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv’s regional military government, as he thanked troops manning the capital’s air defense systems, which have proven increasingly effective in taking down the most Russian drones and missiles aimed at the city.
Since the beginning of its large-scale invasion of Ukraine more than eighteen months ago, Russia has regularly unleashed large-scale barrages of missiles, rockets and drones on Kiev. Last week, the Kiev region suffered one of its largest barrages in months, with a combination of cruise missiles and drones fired at the capital. Ukrainian officials said two people had been killed by falling debris.
Sunday’s attacks followed an increasingly familiar pattern of dueling airstrikes, with parts of Ukraine and Russia both targeted almost simultaneously.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that its military had downed a Ukrainian drone over the Bryansk region, close to the Ukrainian border. It also said eight Ukrainian drones were shot down by air defenses over the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014.
The Russian claims could not be independently verified. Ukrainian officials did not immediately comment on the attack on the Bryansk region, as is common for attacks within Russia.
In addition to attacking the capital, Russia has also focused many of its drone strikes on Ukrainian grain and port facilities near the Danube in recent months. Ukraine has used the waterway as an alternative route to export grain since Russia withdrew from an agreement that allowed Ukrainian agricultural shipments through the Black Sea.
The attacks on Danube facilities are seen as an attempt by Russia to tighten its stranglehold on the Ukrainian economy. But they have also come dangerously close to Romania, a NATO member, raising fears that a Russian drone or missile flying off course at close range could risk putting the Western military alliance in a direct military confrontation with Moscow.
An example of this came last week, when debris from what could be a Russian drone was found in Romanian territory across the Danube River from Ukraine, following an attack on a nearby Ukrainian port.
New fragments were found on Saturday and, according to local media, this prompted the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to summon the Russian chargé d’affaires. It was unclear whether the newly discovered fragments came from the same drone.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said this in an email on Saturday message posted on