Rains of Russian barrage on Ukraine with air strikes in several areas
On Monday, the Russian forces launched its biggest wave of drone strikes on Ukraine in months, as part of an intensification of attacks ahead of the Victory Day holiday, which celebrates Tuesday the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.
Ukraine celebrated the occasion a day early in a new break with Moscow.
The mayor of Kiev said that Russia launched 60 Iranian-made suicide drones on Ukrainian targets, including 36 in the capital, and all of them were shot down, however, debris hit a number of buildings, including residential buildings, injuring at least five people.
A fire broke out at a food warehouse in the Black Sea city of Odessa, where officials said three people were injured.
This is the largest number of drones in a wave of attacks by Russia ever, as it intensified its attacks again 10 days ago after a period of lull since early March.
Kiev said Moscow was pushing for the last time to try to capture the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut to gift President Vladimir Putin what would be the only victory for the costly offensives of the Russian winter to mark Victory Day.
Moscow is preparing for the Victory Day parade tomorrow, Tuesday, on the most important occasion for Putin, who invoked the spirit of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany to justify the invasion of Ukraine.
To further emphasize Ukraine’s separation from its Soviet past, Nazi Germany’s surrender in World War II was commemorated on Monday, in line with the approach of its Western allies.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had signed a decree to officially change the date in the future.
Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender came into force late on the evening of May 8, 1945, when May 9 in Moscow had already begun, a date that became a holiday in the Soviet Union.
Ukraine, which at that time was part of the Soviet Union that was invaded by the Nazis, suffered more losses, on a per capita basis, than Russia incurred in World War II, and was one of the strongholds of European Jews who were subjected to the Holocaust.
In a speech to his people from atop a hill overlooking the capital, Kiev, Zelensky said, “As we recall the heroism of millions of Ukrainians in that war against Nazism, we see the same heroism in the actions of our soldiers today”.
He added that the “ancient evil” has returned and this time it was launched by “modern Russia”, which seeks to achieve the same goal as the Nazis of “enslavement and destruction”, adding that it will not succeed in this.
“We’re convinced that this day (May 9) is sacred for many in Ukraine… There are also veterans who participated in the Great Patriotic War and their relatives for whom this day will remain sacred,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a news briefing on Monday.
Russia has canceled or scaled back some of the huge military parades that usually accompany Victory Day.
Western countries say the decision was prompted partly by security concerns and partly because Moscow lost much of its military equipment in a largely unsuccessful winter offensive in Ukraine, which has seen Europe’s heaviest ground fighting since World War Two.
Ukraine, which last year pushed back Russian forces from entering the capital and recaptured large swathes of its territory, has kept its forces on the defensive for the past six months, but is preparing for a large-scale counteroffensive in the coming weeks.
Explosions continued all night in Kiev. Kiev Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said via Telegram that three people were injured in an explosion in the Solomyansky district of the city and two others were wounded when the wreckage of a drone fell on the Svyatoshin district.
The two regions are located to the west of the center of the capital.
Kiev’s military department said the wreckage of a drone landed on a runway at Giuliani Airport, one of the capital’s two passenger airports, prompting emergency services to be called there even though there was no fire.
It added that debris from the drone apparently hit a two-storey building in the Shevchenkivsky district in the city center, causing damage.
Pictures published by Serhiy Prachuk, a spokesman for the military administration in Odessa, showed a fire burning in a large building, which was said to be a food warehouse.
After warnings of air strikes sounded for hours in nearly two-thirds of Ukraine’s territory, media reported that explosions were heard in the Kherson region in the south and Zaporizhya in the southeast.
Vladimir Rogov, an official appointed by Russia in Zaporizhya, said Russian forces bombed a warehouse and a position of Ukrainian forces in the small city of Orekhiv. Reuters could not independently verify the report.
Meanwhile, Russian forces bombed eight sites in Sumy, northeastern Ukraine, on Sunday, the regional military administration said in a Facebook post.
The strikes have also intensified in the past two weeks on Russian targets, especially in the Crimea.
Ukraine doesn’t confirm responsibility for any of those attacks, but says the destruction of enemy infrastructure is a preparation for its long-awaited ground offensive.