Ukraine said Wednesday it had shot down multiple Iranian-made drones launched at the capital by Russian troops in their latest attack on Kyiv.
The Kremlin meanwhile said there no would be no let up in fighting over Christmas and the New Year while Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky urged European leaders to back a court to try Russian officials.
Explosions rang out over a central neighbourhood in Kyiv in the early hours and AFP journalists later saw law enforcement and emergency service workers inspecting metal fragments at a snow-covered impact site.
“The terrorists started this morning with 13 Shaheds,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, referring to the Iran-made weapons.
“All 13 were shot down” he added, urging residents to heed air raid sirens.
Kyiv has been subjected to nearly ten months of air raid sirens and frequent aerial attacks since Russia invaded Ukraine in February and tried to capture the capital.
But the attacks have increased up since October when Russia began systematically targeting critical infrastructure in Ukraine in attacks that have disrupted electricity, water and heat to millions in Ukraine.
Kyiv’s Western allies have been supplying Ukraine with more advanced air defence systems in response.
Ukrenergo, the national energy provider, said no energy infrastructure facilities were damaged in Wednesday’s drone attack, crediting Ukrainian air defences for their “brilliant” work.
– Civilian ‘suffering’ –
US ambassador in Ukraine Bridget Brink said on social media that Kyiv could continue to rely on Washington’s backing and that “more support is on the way”.
“It’s obvious that these attacks have just one aim: to increase the suffering of civilian population,” said Peter Stano, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrel.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced that explosions were heard in the central district of Shevchenkivsky and city officials said debris from the downed drones had damaged residential homes and an local administrative building.
No one was reported injured or killed.
Since a series of key battlefield setbacks this summer and autumn, Russia has been pummelling critical infrastructure across Ukraine with missiles and drones.
Moscow most recently targeted Ukrainian energy infrastructure last week piling pressure on the country’s power grid, whose operators have for weeks been forced to implement rolling blackouts.
Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said this week that between 40 and 50 percent of the country’s grid was out of action because of Russia’s strikes.
The latest round of attacks on Wednesday came one day after Zelensky issued urgent appeals to around 70 countries and international organisations at a Paris conference to help Ukraine withstand Russian attacks this winter.
In a video message from Kyiv, Zelensky said Tuesday that Ukraine needed assistance worth around 800 million euros in the short term for its battered energy sector.
‘Fight through winter’
He also said that his country needs spare parts for repairs, high-capacity generators, extra gas and increased electricity imports.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Ukraine’s allies to provide his country with more weapons to help it “fight through the winter” and sustain Kyiv’s military advances.
The Kremlin meanwhile said it had not received any proposals from Kyiv to pause fighting in Ukraine during the upcoming holiday period and that a ceasefire was not on Moscow’s agenda.
“No, no proposals have been received from anyone and no topic of this kind is on the agenda,” the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
In nearly 10 months of fighting, Russia has yet to fulfil any of its stated key goals in what it refers to as its “special military operation” in Ukraine, including seizing the capital or the eastern Donbas region.
The Moscow-installed leader of Ukraine’s Donetsk region on Wednesday however called for Russia to widen its goals and annex two more areas of Ukraine, the Black Sea region of Odessa and Chernigiv in the north.
Separately, Ukraine’s SBU security service said it was carrying out raids at churches and monasteries across the country in its most recent searches on religious sites of the Russia-linked Ukrainian Orthodox Church.