Air raid sirens sounded in Ukraine’s Kyiv after residents were subjected to drone strikes, spasms of gunfire and explosions in the fourth attack on the capital in as many days, officials said.
Officials said at least one drone was downed after anti-aircraft units sprang into action Thursday evening during the attack, which began just after 8 p.m. and lasted about 20 minutes.
Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko said there were two strikes from downed drones.
“During the last air raid, an unmanned aircraft was spotted over Kiev. The object was shot down by air defense forces,” Serhiy Popko, head of the military administration of the city of Kiev, told Telegram.
Popko said a fire was under control in a building where the drone was shot down in the Solomyanskyi neighborhood, west of the city center. He said there were no injuries.
Local authorities had issued a warning for the capital and the surrounding area.
Earlier on Thursday, Russia fired two dozen combat drones into Ukraine, hitting Kiev for the third time in four days and also hitting a university campus in the Black Sea city of Odessa ahead of an expected Ukraine counter-offensive to take occupied land. recapture.
The Ukrainian Air Force said on Thursday it had destroyed one of its own drones after it began flying out of control over the Kiev region.
“On May 4 at about 8 p.m. during a scheduled flight in the Kiev region, the Air Force lost control of a Baykartar TV2 drone,” the Air Force said in a statement on Telegram.
“Because the uncontrolled flight of the drone in the air above the capital could have led to undesirable consequences, it was decided to deploy mobile fire brigades. The target – destroyed!”
The statement said the drone had likely suffered a technical malfunction.
The Ukrainian Air Force previously said Russia had fired 24 attack drones overnight, 18 of which were downed. Authorities said there were no casualties, AFP reported.
Popko said Kiev “has not seen such an intensity of strikes since the beginning of this year”.
Russia, US, trade debt
The latest attacks on Kiev come a day after Russia claimed it shot down two drones targeting the Kremlin before they reached President Vladimir Putin’s official residence.
Russia on Thursday accused the United States of being behind the alleged drone attack on the Kremlin aimed at killing Putin.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said without providing evidence that Ukraine had acted on US orders with the alleged drone attack on the Kremlin citadel in the early hours of Wednesday.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Peskov was “just lying” and that the US was not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to attack beyond its borders.
Kiev has also denied involvement in the incident, which followed a series of blasts over the past week targeting freight trains and oil depots in western Russia and Russian-controlled Crimea. Moscow has also blamed Ukraine for those attacks.
“Attempts to deny this [attack on the Kremlin], both in Kiev and in Washington, are, of course, absolutely ridiculous. We know very well that decisions about such actions, about such terrorist attacks, are not made in Kiev, but in Washington,” Peskov told reporters.
Peskov said an urgent investigation was underway and any response would be carefully considered and weighed.
A top US intelligence official said it is very unlikely that Russia will use its nuclear weapons, suggesting Moscow will hold back even if it suffers heavy casualties.
“It is very unlikely, is our current assessment,” Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, told the Senate Armed Forces Committee.
F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine
Nuclear tensions between Russia and the United States have increased since the start of the conflict with Ukraine, with Putin repeatedly warning that Russia is ready to use its nuclear arsenal.
Meanwhile, talks about a possible donation of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine are progressing and there are “no taboos”, said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
“We are working closely with our partners Belgium, other countries, the UK and Denmark to somehow bring that debate to a successful conclusion. We’re not there yet,” he said.
“At the moment the armored howitzers in Ukraine, [and] the Leo 2s will be delivered to Ukraine,” he noted. “So we will work diligently on this, on the F-16s, and there is clearly support in parliament for this government to work on that.”
Technical personnel from Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations are expected to meet on Friday to discuss a deal that will allow the export of Ukrainian grain to the Black Sea, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.
The meeting will take place ahead of the scheduled deputy defense ministers of Russia, Ukraine and Turkey next week, Akar said, adding that Ankara continues its efforts to further extend the deal, which expires on May 18.