Hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Belarus, Moscow launched a “kamikaze” drone attack on crucial infrastructure in and around Kyiv. This fueled concerns that Putin would persuade his partner to join a new war on Ukraine.
The third Russian airstrike on the Ukrainian capital in six days and the most recent in a string of attacks since October that have targeted the Ukrainian power sector have resulted in widespread blackouts and below-freezing temperatures, according to the Ukrainian Air Force.
Officials said at least three people were wounded and nine buildings damaged in the Kyiv region.
The Ukrainian atomic energy agency accused Russia of sending one of the drones over part of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, in the Mykolaiv region.
“This is an absolutely unacceptable violation of nuclear and radiation safety,” Energoatom wrote on Telegram.
Invading Russian forces currently occupy the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, near the front line in southeastern Ukraine.
“Kamikaze” drones used in the attacks, are cheaply produced, disposable unmanned aircraft that fly towards their target before plummeting at velocity and detonating on impact.
Under the darkness of night, a fire raged at an energy facility in the often-targeted central Shevchenkivskyi district, a Reuters witness said.
“I heard an explosion. And in three or four minutes I heard another explosion,” said an old man who works at a guard at a nearby hospital.
The Solomianskyi district in the western part of Kyiv, a busy transport hub, home to a train station and one of the city’s two passenger airports, was also hit.
Kyiv officials said 18 out of 23 drones were shot down over the city of 3.6 million.
“As a result of the attack on the capital, critical infrastructure facilities were damaged,” Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app.
“Engineers are working to quickly stabilise the situation with energy and heat supply.”
Oleskiy Kuleba, governor of the region surrounding Kyiv, said infrastructure and private homes were damaged and that two people were wounded. He said the attack caused “fairly serious” damage and three areas had been left without power.