- Drone attack forces Kyiv residents to take cover
- Follows the biggest air assault of the war a day earlier
- NATO chief calls for more weapons for Ukraine
- Britain sends metal detectors to eliminate landmines
- Both sides of Ukraine’s eastern front line are still entrenched
KYIV, Dec 30 (Reuters) – Residents of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv were told to head to air-raid shelters early on Friday as sirens sounded in the city, a day after Russia led the one of the biggest air strikes since the start of the war in February.
Shortly after 2 a.m., the Kyiv city government issued an alert on its Telegram messaging app channel about air raid sirens and called on residents to seek shelters.
Kyiv region governor Olekskiy Kuleba said on Telegram that a “drone attack” was underway.
A Reuters witness 20 km (12 miles) south of Kyiv heard several explosions and the sound of anti-aircraft fire.
The Ukrainian military said 16 Iranian-made Shahed drones were launched and all destroyed. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said 7 targeted the city and one administrative building was partly destroyed.
Kyiv says Iran is supplying Moscow with drones for its airstrikes, but Tehran says it last sent drones to Russia before the war started.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported Friday morning that Russia had launched 85 missile strikes, 35 airstrikes and 63 strikes from multiple rocket launchers in the past 24 hours.
He said Moscow forces also shelled 20 settlements around the bombed city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, where some of the fiercest fighting is taking place, and more than 25 settlements in the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
Reuters could not immediately verify reports from the battlefield.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said most areas affected by Thursday’s massive airstrike suffered power cuts.
Areas where power loss was “particularly difficult” included the capital Kyiv, Odessa and Kherson in the south and surrounding regions, and around Lviv near the western border with Poland, Zelenskiy said.
“But that’s nothing compared to what could have happened without our heroic anti-aircraft gunners and air defense,” Zelenskiy said.
Waves of Russian airstrikes in recent months targeting energy infrastructure have left millions without power or heating in often freezing temperatures.
CALL FOR MORE WEAPONS
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on NATO member states to supply more weapons to Ukraine, according to an interview published Friday.
“I call on allies to do more. It is in our security interests to make sure Ukraine wins and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin doesn’t win,” Stoltenberg told AFP. German news agency DPA.
Stoltenberg told DPA that military support for Ukraine was the fastest way to achieve peace.
“We know that most wars end at the negotiating table – probably this war too – but we know that what Ukraine can achieve in these negotiations depends inextricably on the military situation,” he said.
The United States last week announced nearly $2 billion in additional military aid, including the Patriot Air Defense System, which provides protection against aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.
Britain said on Friday it had given Ukraine more than 1,000 metal detectors and 100 kits to deactivate bombs and help clear minefields.
“Russia’s use of landmines and targeting of civilian infrastructure underscores the shocking cruelty of Putin’s invasion,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement.
“This latest package of British support will help Ukraine safely clear land and buildings as it reclaims its rightful territory.”
The metal detectors, made by German company Vallon, can help troops clear safe routes on roads and paths by helping to eliminate the risk of explosions, the MoD said, while the kits can disarm fuse of unexploded bombs.
Wallace said Thursday that Britain would allocate 2.3 billion pounds ($2.77 billion) to Ukraine in military aid in 2023, matching the amount it has provided this year.
Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians, but Ukraine says its daily bombardments are destroying towns, villages and the country’s electrical, medical and other infrastructure.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what President Vladimir Putin calls a “special military operation” against what it perceives to be threats to its security.
Ukraine and its Western allies have denounced Russia’s actions as imperialist-style land grabbing and imposed sanctions in an attempt to disrupt the campaign.
The 11-month war has killed tens of thousands of people, driven millions from their homes, left cities in ruins and shaken the global economy, driving up energy and food prices.
The heaviest fighting is taking place in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk which together form the industrial region of Donbass. Russia claimed in September that it had annexed them, along with the southern provinces of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, but does not fully control any of them.
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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Grant McCool and Michael Perry; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Simon Cameron-Moore
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.