A Russian air assault on Kyiv was swatted aside Monday when the Ukraine military shot down all 35 Iranian-made drones, but their fiery, shattered remnants injured residents and damaged vehicles, the Ukraine Air Force said.
Air raid alarms sounded for more than three hours in the pre-dawn hours across Kyiv. The drone attack was the most severe assault on Ukraine’s capital since the start of the war, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
In Kyiv’s Svyatoshinsky district, the facade of a high-rise residential building was damaged and windows were shattered. Debris fell onto roads, damaging at least seven cars, the city administration said. In the Solomensky district, 15 trucks and five cars were damaged. A gas pipe also was hit, igniting a blaze that was doused when the gas was turned off.
Elsewhere, Russian shelling of 127 targets across northern, southern and eastern parts of Ukraine killed four civilians, the Ukrainian defense ministry said. The assault came as Moscow enforced tight security on the eve of traditional Victory Day commemorations in Red Square marking the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II. It also came as Russian forces claimed the Ukraine city of Bakhmut, a focus of the fighting for months, could soon fall.
“The Russians still hope to capture the city by May 9. Our task is to prevent this,” Ukrainian ground forces commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said after visiting the front line near Bakhmut.
∙ Anxiety about the safety of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant was growing after the Moscow-installed governor of the Ukrainian region ordered civilian evacuations, raising fears that fighting in the area would intensify. International Atomic Energy Agency officials have tried to persuade the combatants to establish a security zone around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
∙The evacuations ordered by the Russia-backed governor of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia province, Yegeny Balitsky, Balitsky on Friday ordered civilians to leave 18 Russian-occupied communities, including Enerhodar, home to most of the plant staff.
∙The Berlin Higher Administrative Court threw out permits that would have allowed the flags of Russia and the Soviet Union to be displayed at a Soviet war memorial in Berlin. Officials in the city also lifted a ban on flying the Ukraine flag at the sites.
∙ Russia has halted registration and inspections of the incoming fleet of ships seeking to transport Ukraine grain under a U.N.-mediated initiative, Ukraine officials said Monday. About 90 ships reportedly are awaiting Russian inspections.
∙ European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will visit Kyiv on Tuesday and meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky to “reaffirm the EU’s unwavering support for Ukraine,” the commission’s press service reported.
A European Union proposal to sanction Chinese businesses supporting Moscow’s war efforts − a first since Russia’s invasion began more than 14 months ago − is drawing stiff opposition in Beijing. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, speaking at a briefing Monday, said trust between the EU and China will be destroyed if Brussels imposes sanctions on Chinese companies accused of helping Russia. A new, 11th package of sanctions that includes sanctions against several Chinese companies could be discussed Wednesday at a meeting of EU ambassadors, the Financial Times reports.
“If the relevant reports are true, then the European side may seriously violate trust and cooperation with China, exacerbate the split and confrontation in the world,” the diplomat said.
Ukraine is gearing up for an expected spring counteroffensive in its war with Russia, but U.S.-supplied Abrams tanks are months from reaching the front lines. The tanks are being modified to remove sensitive technology that otherwise could fall into the hands of Russian forces, a necessary precaution in case the Russians capture one of the vehicles and exploit them for intelligence, U.S. officials and military experts said.
“It may or may not present opportunities for Russia to do testing on it, and to look for vulnerabilities,” said Colin Smith, an expert on the Russian military at the RAND Corp., a non-partisan think tank. Read more here.
−Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
Russian media counted at least 21 Russian cities that canceled military parades marking Victory Day celebrations for the first time in years. Regional officials cited “security concerns” or vaguely referred to “the current situation.”
Parades will take place Tuesday in Russia’s largest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg. But the use of drones has been banned in both cities. In St. Petersburg, which is often referred to as “northern Venice” for its network of rivers and canals, using Jet Skis in certain parts of the city has been prohibited until May 10. In the Russian capital, ride sharing services have been temporarily barred from the city center − drivers will not be able to start or finish rides there.
The Kremlin’s forces used tanks, drones, mortars, warplanes, multiple rocket launchers and surface-to-air missiles to bombard Ukraine, the report said. Russian long-range bombers launched up to eight cruise missiles at Ukraine’s southern Odesa region, authorities said. One person was killed and three wounded.
Some of the Soviet-era cruise missiles fired against the Odesa region self-destructed or fell into the sea before reaching their targets, according to Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuri Ihnat. Six Russian rockets also struck the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk during the night, a regional official reported Monday.
The missiles targeted the city’s industrial zone and caused no casualties, Donetsk regional governor Petro Kyrylenko said in a Telegram post.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday that he had sent a draft bill to parliament proposing a Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism in World War II on May 8 and a Day of Europe on May 9. The dates align Ukraine with Europe’s commemorations instead of Russia’s.
Zelenskyy equated Russia’s goals in Ukraine to those of the Nazis. “Unfortunately, evil has returned,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram. “Although now it is another aggressor, the goal is the same − enslavement or destruction.”
Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov may have compelled the Russian theater commander in Ukraine, Army General Valery Gerasimov, to resume artillery ammunition distribution to the Wagner forces in Bakhmut, a Washington-based think tank says.
Prigozhin said Sunday that he had obtained a document from the Russian Ministry of Defense promising the ammunition and weapons necessary to maintain offensive operations in Bakhmut. Prigozhin last week threatened that Wagner fighters could pull out of the embattled city, where they have for weeks been Russia’s main assault force. He accused Russia’s military command of starving Wagner of ammunition and causing it heavy losses.
A Ukrainian military spokesman on Monday scoffed at Prigozhin’s claims. Serhii Cherevaty, a spokesman for the Eastern Group of Forces, said on Ukrainian TV that “there are more than enough shells to fire at our positions.”
Contributing: The Associated Press