KYIV: Russia launched a large-scale wave of strikes on Kyiv and across Ukraine sowing destruction and injuries, officials said early on Monday, as Moscow prepares for its cherished Victory Day holiday that marks the anniversary of its defeat of Nazi Germany.
At least five people were injured due to Russian strikes on Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said, while Russian missiles set ablaze a foodstuff warehouse in the Black Sea city of Odesa and blasts were reported in several other Ukrainian regions.
The fresh attacks come as Moscow prepares for its Victory Day parade on Tuesday, a key anniversary for President Vladimir Putin who has evoked the spirit of the Soviet army that defeated Nazi German forces to declare that Russia would defeat a Ukraine supposedly in the grip of a new incarnation of Nazism.
Russia intensified shelling of Bakhmut hoping to take it by Tuesday, Ukraine’s top general in charge of the defense of the besieged city said, after Russia’s Wagner mercenary group appeared to ditch plans to withdraw from it.
Three people were injured in blasts in Kyiv’s Solomyanskyi district and two others were injured when drone wreckage fell onto the Sviatoshyn district, both west of the capital’s center, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on his Telegram messaging channel.
The Kyiv’s military administration said that drone wreckage fell on a runway of the Zhuliany airport, one of the two passenger airports of the Ukrainian capital, causing no fire, but emergency services were working on the site.
It also said that in Kyiv’s central Shevchenkivskyi district, drone debris seemed to have hit a two-story building, causing damages. There was no immediate information about potential casualties.
Reuters’ witnesses said they had heard numerous explosions in Kyiv, with local officials saying that air defense systems were repelling the attacks. It was not immediately clear how many drones were launched on Kyiv.
Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson for the Odesa military administration, posted on his Telegram channel photos of a large structure fully engulfed in flames, in what he said was a Russian attack on a foodstuff warehouse, among others.
After air raid alerts blared for hours over roughly two-thirds of Ukraine, there were also media reports of sounds of explosions in the southern region of Kherson and in the Zaporizhzhia region in southeast.
Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed local official in Zaporizhzhia, said that Russian forces hit a warehouse and Ukrainian troops’ position in Orikhiv, a small city in the region. Reuters was not able to independently verify the report.
Separately, Russian forces shelled eight locations in Sumy region in northeastern Ukraine on Sunday, the regional military administration said in a Facebook post.
In the past two weeks, strikes have also intensified on Russian-held targets, especially in Crimea. Ukraine, without confirming any role in those attacks, says destroying enemy infrastructure is preparation for its long-expected ground assault.
Putin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, calling it a “special military operation” to defend Russia from neo-Nazis in Ukraine, but Kyiv and its allies say it was an unprovoked, land grab.
The invasion sparked the biggest conflict in Europe since World War Two and has killed thousands and forced millions to flee the country.