Russia launched a new attack on Ukraine on Tuesday as Russia celebrated the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, with Ukraine’s air defenses destroying 23 of 25 missiles fired, chiefly at the capital Kyiv, officials said.
The attack – the fifth in May – came a day after Russia launched its biggest drone swarm yet in a renewed air campaign unleashed 10 days ago after a lull since early March.
Military officials said there were no casualties in Tuesday’s attack and not much damage.
“As at the front, the plans of the aggressor failed,” Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv’s city military administration, said in comments posted on the Telegram messaging app.
Russia celebrates Victory Day on Tuesday, one of its most important public holidays when thousands of people will line the streets of Moscow’s Red Square to watch a military parade, set for 0700 GMT, and listen a speech by President Vladimir Putin.
“Overnight into the ‘sacred’ May 9, (they) launched an attack on the territory of Ukraine,” Ukraine’s air force said on its Telegram messaging app.
Popko said Russian forces were trying “to kill as many civilians as possible on this day”.
Popko said Tuesday’s attack was carried out with cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea region.
Falling debris fell on a house in the Holosiivskyi district in the southwest of Kyiv, Kyiv’s Mayor Vitalii Klitschko said on his Telegram messaging channel, adding there were no casualties nor much damage.
In the often-targeted Shevchenkivskyi district of central Kyiv debris was found on a road.
“Kyiv stood up again and will stand up in the future!” Popko said.
On Sunday, Ukraine’s military vowed to prevent Russian forces from making a final push to try to capture the ruined eastern city of Bakhmut, so denying Putin what would be his only prize for a costly winter offensive in time for the holiday.
Russia’s mercenary Wagner forces, which have borne the brunt of the Bakhmut fighting, have yet to receive the ammunition promised by Moscow, the head of the group said on Tuesday, rowing back from comments hours earlier that initial data showed supplies had begun to arrive.
But Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said he did not want to “spoil” Russia’s Victory Day parade and would reveal more details later.
Ukraine is expected to launch a counteroffensive to retake territory in the east and south in coming days.
Victory Day this year is even more emotionally charged as Russia mourns thousands of soldiers killed in the nearly 15-month war in Ukraine that shows no sign of ending.
Russia is also reeling from drone attacks, including one on the Kremlin on May 3 which it said was an attempt to assassinate Putin. Ukraine denies involvement.
Putin has repeatedly likened the Ukraine war – which he casts as a battle against “Nazi”-inspired nationalists – to the challenge the Soviet Union faced when Hitler invaded in 1941.
Ukraine says this is absurd and accuses Russia of behaving like Nazi Germany by waging an unprovoked war of aggression and seizing Ukrainian territory.
Putin, his defense minister and other senior officials are expected to review the Red Square parade, which usually includes tanks, intercontinental missile launchers and marching troops.
However, reflecting increased security concerns caused partly by the drone attacks, authorities have cancelled the traditional flyover.
There have also been reports of fewer soldiers and less military hardware joining this year’s parade as the Ukraine conflict takes a heavy toll on men and equipment.
Authorities nationwide have cancelled the “Immortal Regiment” processions, where people carry portraits of relatives who fought against the Nazis.