kyiv Hit by Massive Russian Drone Attack as City Celebrates Founding


Before the anniversary of its foundation in the year 482 d. C., kyiv suffered the biggest drone attack since the start of the war with Russia, Ukrainian officials said on Sunday.

The Ukrainian Air Force said in a statement on Telegram that a «record number» of 54 Russian-launched, Iranian-made «Shahed» drones were launched on the city overnight, though it added that it had shot down 52 of them. NBC News was unable to independently verify these figures.

The attack mainly targeted military installations and critical infrastructure in central Ukraine, including kyiv, according to the statement.

KYIV, UKRAINE – MAY 28: A man clears debris from a building damaged during a Russian drone strike on May 28, 2023 in kyiv, Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, he had intercepted 52 of the 54 Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones launched by Russia against Ukraine. More than 40 drones were shot down over the capital kyiv, with at least one person dead and another injured. It was Russia’s largest airstrike against kyiv since the start of the war. (Photo by Roman Pilipey/Getty Images)Roman Pilipey / Getty Images

In a separate Telegram post, the Kiev City Military Authority said the attack “was carried out in several waves, and the air alert lasted for more than 5 hours.”

It added that it was «the most massive drone attack on the capital since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, that is, with the ‘Shahed’ munitions barrage.»

«Shahed» drones are self-detonating aerial weapons in which the munitions can hover over a target until instructed to attack, destroying the weapon in the process. Iran is believed to have sent hundreds of these weapons to Russia since the start of its invasion last February.

At least one person was killed and another was taken to hospital after they were hit by falling debris from the buildings that were hit, the military authority said.

A shopping center and a three-story warehouse also caught fire as a result of the debris, causing 10,800 square feet of destruction, it added.

A rescuer puts out a fire after a massive drone strike in the Ukrainian capital kyiv on Sunday.PAVLO PETROV / AFP – Getty Images

Vitali Klitchko, the mayor of Kiev, also took to Telegram to say that buildings had caught fire in the historic Perchersk neighborhood in the city center, which is famous for its monastery containing the relics of saints.

Bolstered by sophisticated Western-supplied systems, Ukraine has been adept at thwarting Russian airstrikes, both with drones and missile aircraft. In early May, Ukraine prevented a heavy Russian airstrike on kyiv, shooting down all missiles aimed at the capital.

The most recent attacks came as kyiv was preparing to mark the anniversary of the city’s official founding. The day is usually celebrated with live concerts, street fairs, displays and fireworks, but scaled-down festivities are planned for this year – the city’s 1,541st anniversary.

“Ukrainian history is a long-standing irritant to complex Russians,” Andriy Yermak, head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, said on Telegram on Sunday. “Old kyiv, Ukrainian kyiv…UAV Attack.”

The attack came as speculation mounted about a long-awaited counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces.

“We are preparing the battlefield for the new phase of the war. It’s happening now. It’s a lot of measures in different sectors of the front line,» Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told NBC News on Saturday.

Acknowledging that preparation was underway, Podolyak also praised a cleverly produced video posted on Telegram on Saturday by Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces.

It showed Ukrainian troops training, taking an oath and preparing for battle, along with the caption «The time has come to give back what is ours.»

If Ukraine’s top general suggests that, he will have a good reason, Podolyak said. He added that it showed «that Ukraine is perhaps almost ready to start a big operation aimed at the liberation of its territories.»

molly huntress and Reuters contributed.

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