Russian Forces Launch Overnight Drone Attacks on Kyiv

Russian forces launched a wave of drone attacks on Ukraine’s capital before dawn on Sunday, the first aerial assault on Kyiv by unmanned vehicles in nearly two weeks.

Serhiy Popko, the head of the city’s military administration, said that air defenses had destroyed all of the drones in Kyiv’s airspace. Debris from downed drones damaged three homes in the region, injuring one man, the administration said. No one was killed.

Russia has repeatedly launched overnight attacks on Kyiv — using both drones and missiles — since its full-scale invasion began in February 2022, and Ukraine’s complex air-defense network has become increasingly adept at intercepting those attacks. But even successful interceptions pose a danger: Last week, air defenses fended off a 20-missile barrage that still killed three people after falling debris hit a high-rise building and started a fire.

Sunday’s attack, which began after air-raid alarms sounded around 2:30 a.m., was the first time in 12 days that Russian forces had used Iranian-made attack drones to target the capital, Mr. Popko said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

The Ukrainian Air Force said that Russia had launched a total of eight Iranian-made Shahed-136 attack drones and three cruise missiles at targets across the country overnight, all of which were destroyed. The armed forces said in an evening update that a total of 11 missiles had been fired during the day.

The overnight drone assault came as Ukraine’s military reported “heavy fighting” on the front lines in the country’s east and south, where Kyiv’s forces have been waging a grueling counteroffensive to claw back territory captured by Russia.

The Ukrainian military said that “intense combat” was underway near the destroyed Antonovsky Bridge in the southern region of Kherson, where the Dnipro River has for months delineated the front line. Natalia Humeniuk, the spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military’s southern command, described the fighting as primarily “counter-battery warfare” — or an attempt to take out Russian firing positions.

In November, Russian forces retreated from the city of Kherson, on the western bank of the Dnipro River, and withdrew to the opposite side. Since then, from new positions in small towns and marshy areas along the eastern bank, they have been relentlessly shelling Kherson and nearby towns.

The Ukrainian regional military administration for Kherson said on Sunday that shelling had injured three civilians. In an earlier statement, it reported that Russian forces had launched 86 strikes on the city over the past day, wounding five people, including three children.

Military analysts have said that fighting near the Antonovsky Bridge — which was a strategic transport link from the city of Kherson across the Dnipro River before the bridge was wrecked by retreating Russian forces — has intensified this past week. Russian military bloggers have suggested that Kyiv’s troops might be trying to establish a foothold on the river’s east bank.

A day after Britain’s defense intelligence agency said that Ukrainian forces had “almost certainly” been moving personnel to the east bank of the river, Russia’s Defense Ministry on Sunday claimed that it had destroyed Ukrainian units attempting to land on an island near the bridge.

However, Aleksandr Kharchenko, a military blogger with the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, said the situation was not that simple.

“Fierce battles are ongoing in the area of the Antonovsky Bridge,” he wrote. The claims could not be independently verified.

Local residents and Russian military bloggers said this past week that boats carrying Ukrainian soldiers had been spotted around the bridge and that Ukrainian forces appeared to be seizing more of the river islands and swampy banks around the city of Kherson, in a possible expansion of Kyiv’s counteroffensive.

The counteroffensive, which got underway last month, has been slow and grueling. Ukrainian forces have faced staunch Russian defenses, mounting casualties and field after field of land mines.

Kyiv’s forces have notched mostly small gains, breaking through a first line of Russian defenses and reclaiming several farming villages in the eastern Donetsk region and the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

Hanna Malyar, a deputy Ukrainian defense minister, wrote on Telegram that Russian forces had advanced in some areas of the east on Sunday, while Kyiv’s fighters had made progress in the south.

“It’s hot everywhere now,” she wrote.

Military analysts say that the campaign is still in its early stages and that Ukraine has yet to commit the bulk of its forces. Ukrainian officials — along with Kyiv’s Western allies, which provided sophisticated new weapons and training for the counteroffensive — have defended the pace of progress while cautioning that the campaign will be long and bloody.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged on Friday that Ukraine’s advances in the face of dug-in Russian defenses had been slow, but he said Kyiv’s soldiers were still making steady progress in “a fight for their life.”

“Slow advance is very deliberate,” the general said.

In other news:

  • Victoria Amelina, a Ukrainian novelist, died on Saturday from injuries she suffered last week, when a Russian missile hit Ria Lounge, a popular restaurant in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine, PEN Ukraine said on its website. She was having dinner with a Colombian delegation of writers and journalists when the attack occurred.

  • President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said he traveled on Sunday to the southern port city of Odesa, where he met with a Navy commander and servicemen. The commander gave an update on the situation in the Black Sea and Russia’s ability to launch missiles from its waters, Mr. Zelensky said in a statement on Telegram.

  • Poland will add 500 police officers to its security forces along the border with Belarus, the country’s interior minister, Mariusz Kaminski, said on Sunday. Police officials had already said they were tightening border security in response to news that Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner mercenary force and the leader of a short-lived rebellion in Russia, would be exiled in Belarus. Mr. Kaminski wrote on Twitter that, in view of the “tense situation,” the additional officers would be sent to join 5,000 border guards and 2,000 soldiers already stationed on the border.

Ivan Nechepurenko contributed reporting.

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