Russia attacked Ukrainian cities with drones on Monday, killing at least three people in an apartment building in downtown Kyiv during morning rush hour, and targeting infrastructure across the country in the second big wave of air strikes in a week.
Soldiers fired into the air trying to shoot down the drones after blasts rocked central Kyiv. Residents fled for shelter. An anti-aircraft rocket could be seen streaking into the morning sky, followed by an explosion and orange flames.
An official in Ukraine’s presidential office said three people were killed in an attack on a residential building in Kyiv. Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi said there had been deaths in other cities but did not give a full toll.
Black smoke poured out of the windows of the Kyiv apartment building and emergency service workers toiled to douse flames.
“I have never been so afraid… It is murder, it is simply murder, there are no other words for it,” said Vitalii Dushevskiy, 29, a food delivery courier who rents an apartment in the blasted building.
Read more: Putin says Ukraine mobilisation should be finished in two weeks
His flatmate, who gave his name only as Nazar, said they had tried to leave their apartment only to find the staircase “all gone”.
Nearby, Elena Mazur, 52, was searching for her mother, who had managed to call her to say she was buried under rubble.
“She is not picking up the phone,” Mazur said, hoping she had been rescued and taken to hospital.
“All night and all morning the enemy terrorizes the civilian population. Kamikaze drones and missiles are attacking all of Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on the Telegram messaging app.
“The enemy can attack our cities, but it won’t be able to break us. The occupiers will get only fair punishment and condemnation of future generations. And we will get victory.”
Ukraine said the attacks were carried out by Iran-made ‘suicide drones’, which fly to their target and detonate. Russia’s defence ministry said it had carried out a “massive” attack on military targets and energy infrastructure across Ukraine using high-precision weapons.
Reuters saw pieces of a drone used in the attack that bore the words: “For Belgorod” – an apparent reference to Ukrainian shelling of a Russian region bordering Ukraine.
The strikes came exactly one week after Russia unleashed its heaviest aerial bombardment of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities since the start of the war – also during morning rush hour.
Ukraine’s military said it had destroyed 37 Russian drones since Sunday evening, or around 85% of those involved in attacks.
Also read: Gunmen kill 11 at Russian army base in new blow to Moscow’s Ukraine campaign
A drone attack also hit the Everi marine terminal in the southern city of Mykolaiv late on Sunday, officials said, damaging sunflower storage tanks and setting aflame leaking oil.
“This is an entirely civilian facility. There is no military,” said Andriy, 47, a senior manager who declined to give his last name. He said the attacks were part of a Russian effort to “destroy the economy and to destroy food security”.
The new United Nations human rights chief, Volker Turk of Austria, said drone attacks on civilians had to stop.
The US embassy in Kyiv also condemned the “desperate and reprehensible” drone attacks. Russia denies targeting civilians.
Iran repeated on Monday its denial that it is supplying the drones to Russia. The Kremlin has not commented.
Some European Union foreign ministers, gathering for talks in Luxembourg on Monday, called for new sanctions against Iran if Tehran’s involvement in Russia’s war on Ukraine is proven.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Russia should be expelled from the Group of 20 major economies and other international groups following the drone attacks.
“Those who give orders to attack critical infrastructure to freeze civilians and organise total mobilization to cover the frontline with corpses, cannot sit at the same table with leaders of G20 for sure,” he wrote on Twitter.
Russia has accused Ukraine of hitting targets in Belgorod region near the border. Pro-Russian news sources on Telegram reported that Ukraine had struck Belgorod’s airport overnight. There was no immediate comment from Kyiv, which typically does not comment on incidents in Russia.
Elsewhere on Monday, renewed Russian shelling near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, caused it to be disconnected again from Ukraine’s power grid, Ukrainian state energy firm Energoatom said.
The plant, which has often been shelled during the war, is occupied by Russian forces but operated by Ukrainian staff.
“Such nuclear blackmail of a terrorist country should not go unanswered by the World community! Ukraine needs protection of the sky above its energy facilities!” Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko wrote on Facebook.
He also urged Ukrainians to limit their electricity use.
Russia has long blamed Kyiv for shelling at the plant.
In southern central Ukraine, a large fire broke out at an energy facility in the Dnipropetrovsk region after an overnight missile hit, a local official said.
British military intelligence said on Monday Russia was facing more acute logistical problems in southern Ukraine after a blast on Oct. 8 caused damage to a road-and-rail bridge linking mainland Russia to Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.
Russia’s defence ministry said on Monday its forces had thwarted a Ukrainian attempt to breach their defences in the southern Kherson region.
Ukrainian forces, helped by Western arms, have clawed back territory in Kherson region – strategically vital as it links Crimea to the rest of Ukraine – and in parts of the northeast in a major counter-offensive over the past two months.
Ukraine’s battlefield successes prompted President Vladimir Putin to announce a partial mobilisation last month, Russia’s first since World War Two, a divisive move that encouraged many men to flee the country.
On Monday, the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, said the Russian capital had “completed” its call-ups and further summons would no longer be issued.
Originally published at tribune.com.pk