Civilians killed as Russia launches deadly drone strikes on Kyiv residential area

Waves of explosive-laden suicide drones slammed into the Ukrainian capital on Monday, setting buildings on fire, punching a hole in one and sending people rushing for cover or trying to shoot them down in what the president called Russia’s attempt to terrorize civilians.

The concentrated use of suicide drones was the second barrage in as many weeks – after months in which aerial attacks had become rare in central Kyiv. The assault struck fear and frayed nerves as explosions rocked the city. Energy facilities were struck and a drone largely collapsed a residential building, killing four people, authorities said.

Intense flurries of gunfire rang out as the Iranian-made Shahed drones buzzed overhead, apparently as soldiers attempted to destroy them.

In the Kyiv region alone, 13 or more drones were shot down, all as they arrived from the south, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said.

But Ukraine has become eerily accustomed to attacks nearly eight months after the Russian invasion began, and life in the city resumed as rescuers picked up the debris.

WATCH Deadly drone attacks on Kyiv:

Russia launches deadly drone strikes on Kyiv

Waves of Russian suicide drones have sown terror in the Ukrainian capital. Among the targets, civil infrastructures such as electricity and heating. But at least one apartment building was also hit, killing four people, including a pregnant woman.

Russia ‘cannot break us’, says Zelenskyy

The capital’s central Shevchenko district is among the affected areas, with damaged apartment buildings and a burning non-residential building, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said. He said 18 people had been rescued from the rubble of a building and rescuers were trying to extract two other people known to be under the rubble.

A strike appeared to target the city’s heating network, hitting an operations center. Another slammed into a four-story apartment building, gouging a large hole and collapsing at least three apartments on top of each other. Four bodies were found, including those of a six-month-pregnant woman and her husband, Klitschko said. An older woman and another man were also killed there.

Previous Russian airstrikes on Kyiv were mainly missiles. Analysts believe the slower Shahed drones can be programmed to accurately hit certain targets using GPS unless the system fails.

Wide shot of residential building, section of which has collapsed and where firefighters are working.
Civilians ran for cover as explosions rumbled through residential areas of Kyiv. (Efrem Lukatsky/Associated Press)

An Associated Press photographer who was shooting morning scenes from Kyiv captured one of the drones, its triangle-shaped wing and sharp warhead clearly visible against the blue sky. The drones arrived in waves and buzzed overhead with angry hums coming from their engines.

“All night and all morning the enemy is terrorizing the civilian population,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a message posted on social media. “Drones and suicide missiles are attacking all over Ukraine.

“The enemy may attack our cities, but he cannot break us,” he wrote.

A man falls to the ground following a drone attack in Kyiv on Monday. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

Zelenskyy, citing Ukrainian intelligence, alleges that Russia ordered 2,400 drones from Iran. Russia renamed them drones Geran-2 — “geranium” in Russian. A photo of debris from one of Monday’s strikes, posted by Klitschko, showed “Geran-2” branded on a mutilated tail fin.

Iran has previously denied supplying weapons to Russia, although its Revolutionary Guard leader has boasted of supplying weapons to the world’s biggest powers, without giving further details.

Kyiv a renewed target

The Russian military said it used “high-precision long-range air and sea-based weapons” to fire on Ukrainian military and energy facilities. The strikes hit “all assigned targets”, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

Strikes in central Kyiv had become rare in recent months after Russian forces failed to capture the capital early in the war. Last week’s morning strikes were the first explosions heard in downtown Kyiv for several months, and they have put Kyiv and the rest of the country on edge as the eight-month war nears its end.

Western nations have promised to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses with systems capable of shooting down drones, but many of these weapons have yet to arrive and, in some cases, may be months away.

“The challenges are serious, because the air defense forces and means are the same as at the beginning of the war,” Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Ihnat said.

Warplane crashes in southwest Russia

Hours after the attacks, a Su-34 bomber crashed into a residential area in the southern Russian city of Yeysk on the Sea of ​​Azov on Monday after suffering engine failure – causing the minus 13 dead, three of them jumping. upper floors of a nine-story building to escape a massive fire.

After hours of digging through the charred debris of the building, authorities said 13 residents, including three children, were found dead. 19 others were hospitalized with injuries.

The two crew members, on a training mission, bailed out safely, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Yeysk is a city of around 90,000 people on the Sea of ​​Azov and home to a large Russian airbase.

A multi-story building is seen with a fireball of flames in the middle.
In this photo released by Kooperativ Telegram Channel, flames and smoke rise from the scene after a warplane crashed in a residential area of ​​Yeysk, Russia on Monday. (Kooperativ/Associated Press Telegram Channel)

The exchange of prisoners takes place

Monday’s strikes on Kyiv come as fighting has intensified in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in recent days, as well as the continuation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south near Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Zelenskyy said in his Sunday evening speech that there was heavy fighting around the towns of Bakhmut and Soledar in the Donetsk region.

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The Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which make up the bulk of the industrial east known as Donbass, were two of four regions annexed by Russia in September in defiance of international law.

Denis Pushilin, the head of the Moscow-backed Donetsk region, said on Monday the two countries had carried out another prisoner exchange, affecting a total of 220 people.

NATO begins pre-planned exercises

Meanwhile, NATO began its long-planned annual nuclear exercises in northwestern Europe on Monday, exercises that were planned before Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine.

Fourteen member countries were to take part in the Steadfast Noon exercises, which will involve around 60 aircraft, including fighter jets, surveillance and refueling aircraft.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko speaks during a press conference next to a building damaged by a drone attack on Monday. (Yashuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

Most of the war games will take place at least 1,000 kilometers from Russia’s borders. Training flights will take place over Belgium, the host country, as well as over the North Sea and the United Kingdom.

The drills involve fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear warheads, but they don’t involve any live bombs.

American B-52 long-range bombers will also take part in the maneuvers, which will run until October 30.