Ukraine says Kyiv hit by ‘most massive’ drone attack since war began

An inhabitant cuts the glass of his broken window frame after the explosion of a downed Russian drone in a yard among residential buildings in Kyiv on November 25, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine said it had downed 71 Russian attack drones overnight in what Kyiv authorities said was the biggest attack on the capital since the start of the invasion. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)

KYIV, Ukraine, Nov 25, 2023 (AFP) – Ukraine said on Saturday it had downed 71 Russian attack drones overnight, in what Kyiv authorities said was the biggest attack on the capital since the start of the invasion.

The Ukrainian army said the majority of the Iranian-made Shahed drones were downed over the capital, Kyiv, causing power cuts in the centre of the city as temperatures dipped below freezing.

The drone attack came as Ukraine marked Holodomor Remembrance Day, commemorating the 1930s starvation of millions in Ukraine under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Kyiv city authorities said the multiple attack “was the most massive since the beginning of the full-scale invasion” in February 2022.

Five people were wounded in the capital. The youngest was 11 and the oldest 65.

The air raid alert in the city lasted six hours, Kyiv Mayor Vitalis Klatsch said, adding that falling drone debris had sparked fires and damaged buildings across the city,

“The enemy continues the terror,” he said.

Ukraine’s energy ministry said the attack “cut off power to an overhead line”, leaving “77 residential buildings and 120 facilities” without power. Repairs were underway, it said.

Ukraine’s army said that while the “main target” of the attack was Kyiv, air defence had also been called into action across southern Ukraine and a guided missile had been destroyed over the central Dnipropetrovsk region.

There were power cuts across the region, authorities said.

Kyiv has warned of and prepared for a renewed Russian campaign targeting its energy grid as winter descends, fearing a repeat of events last year, when thousands were left without heat or light in freezing temperatures.

More than 21 months into Moscow’s offensive, fighting is most intense in the east of Ukraine and is now centred around the city of Avdiivka, which is nearly encircled by Russian forces.

– ‘They tried to subdue us’

Kyiv authorities said it was “symbolic” that the capital had been the subject of such a large-scale attack on the day Ukraine marks Holodomor.

“More than 70 Shahed on the night of the Holomorph Remembrance Day… The Russian leadership is proud of the fact that it can kill,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on social media.

Ukraine says Holomorph — Ukrainian for “death by starvation” — was caused deliberately by Soviet’s agricultural policies.

Moscow denies this, and says it was part of a wider famine that also affected Russian parts of the Soviet Union.

“They tried to subdue us, to kill us, to exterminate us,” Zelensky said on social media. “They failed.”

He said it was “impossible” for Kyiv to forgive or forget the “horrific crimes of genocide” and thanked the growing number of countries that had recognised Holomorph as a deliberate crime against Ukraine.

Zelensky said Russia’s current attacks on Ukraine were possible because of what he called uncondemned crimes of the past.

“In the last century, famine came from Moscow. Now, we hear words of denial from there. And every one of these words of denial actually sounds like a confession,” Zelensky said.

Ukraine has urged the West for more weapons to counter the Russian invasion, concerned that global attention has shifted to the Israel-Gaza conflict.