Russia launches biggest drone attack against Kyiv since start of war, Ukrainian officials say

Kyiv, Ukraine CNNRussia on Saturday launched its largest drone attack against Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv since the start of its invasion, according to local officials.

“A total of nearly 75 Shahed drones were launched from two directions – Primorsko-Akhtarsk and the Kursk region, Russia. The primary target was the city of Kyiv,” said Ukraine’s Air Force in a Telegram post, describing the attack as a “record number” of drones.

It said air defenses intercepted 71 of the Iranian-made drones across six regions of Ukraine – but the vast majority of the drones were intercepted in the Kyiv region.

“Anti-aircraft missile troops, tactical aviation, mobile fire groups, and electronic warfare units were involved in repelling the air attack,” said the air force. It added that a Kh-59 guided missile was also destroyed in the Dnipropetrovsk region.

Mykhailo Shamanov, a spokesman for the Kyiv city military administration, described several waves of drones coming from different directions toward the capital.

A CNN producer in Kyiv heard loud explosions and repeated bangs as drones buzzed overhead. The city’s military administration warned residents to take cover, saying: “A large number of enemy UAVs are entering Kyiv from different directions! We urge you to stay in shelters until the alarm goes off!”

It was the fourth drone attack on Kyiv this month, according to Shamanov.

At least two people were injured in Kyiv’s Solomianskyi district, according to Kyiv Mayor Vitalii Klitschko.

Several locations in Solomianskyi district caught fire, including a residential building and other non-residential premises, Klitschko said.

He added that the second floor of a five-story residential building in Solomianskyi district was damaged, and that the wreckage of downed drones fell on two residential buildings – one in the Dniprovskyi district, the other in the Holosiivskyi district.

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In a separate statement, Serhii Popko, the head of the Kyiv city military administration, said a fire had broken out on the premises of a kindergarten after a drone was downed in the Solomianskyi district.

The country’s energy ministry said this recent attack on Kyiv cut off power to an overhead line, leaving 77 residential buildings and 120 establishments without power in the city center.

Ukrainian energy company DTEK announced later on Saturday that power had been restored to all Kyiv residents.

Last winter, Russia carried out a sustained campaign of missile and drone attacks to cripple Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Khmelnytskyi, in western Ukraine, has become a regular target of attacks, with the shockwaves from explosions damaging infrastructure in the region, including its nuclear power plant.

“Powerful explosions” shook the area near the Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said, with shockwaves shattering windows and temporarily cutting off power to some off-site radiation monitoring stations. IAEA experts at the plant were also told that two drones were shot down in close proximity to the site.

The IAEA said that the incident “once again highlighted the dangers to nuclear safety and security during the ongoing military conflict.”

While concerns remain about the country’s energy this winter, DTEK has spent the last seven months restoring infrastructure, trying to boost output and bolster defenses at its facilities.

“We restored what could be restored, bought back-up equipment and installed defenses around power plants,” DTEK chief executive Maxim Timchenko told CNN earlier this month.

According to deputy chief of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence, Vadym Skibitsky, attacks to the country’s energy grid will be harder for Russia to pull off this time around.

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Citizens have also been preparing for the possibility of a downed power grid. One company that installs energy storage systems nationally, has seen a significant rise in demand as people seek off-the-grid solutions, while businesses and companies buy generators and secondary batteries.