A firefighter works at a site of a tobacco factory damaged during Russian drone strike in Kyiv, Ukraine May 28, 2023

Russia Launches Largest Attack With Iranian Drones On Kyiv

Sunday, 05/28/2023

Russia unleashed waves of air strikes on Kyiv overnight in what officials said was the largest attack by Iranian drones on the city since the start of the war.

The Russian assault took place as the Ukrainian capital prepared to celebrate the anniversary of its founding on Sunday.

Russia has used hundreds of Iranian-made drones since September 2022 mostly against Ukrainian civilian targets, with stocks being re-plenished as Tehran denied providing the destructive weapon.

Ukraine's Air Force said it downed 52 out of the 54 drones, calling it a record attack with the Iranian-made Shahed 'kamikaze' drones. It was not immediately clear how many of the drones were shot over Kyiv.

In what also appears to be the first deadly attack on Kyiv in May and the 14th assault this month, falling debris killed a 41-year-old man, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Iran on Wednesday to reconsider the supply of drones to Russia in order to stop a slide into "the dark side of history."

"The simple question is this: what is your interest in being an accomplice to Russian terror?" Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.

Parts of an Iranian-made suicide drone are seen at a compound of a tobacco factory damaged during a strike in Kyiv, May 28, 2023

"What is the benefit to Iran of such cynical killing? By Russian hands, but with your weapons, your weapons...Your Shaheds, which terrorize Ukraine every night, mean only that the people of Iran are being driven deeper and deeper into the dark side of history."

The pre-dawn attacks came on the last Sunday of May when the capital celebrates Kyiv Day, the anniversary of its official founding 1,541 years ago. The day is typically marked by street fairs, live concerts and special museum exhibitions - plans for which have been made this year too, but on a smaller scale.

"The history of Ukraine is a long-standing irritant for the insecure Russians," Andriy Yermak, the head of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office, said on his Telegram channel.

Air Force said on Telegram that Russia had targeted military and critical infrastructure facilities in the central regions of Ukraine, and the Kyiv region in particular.

With a Ukrainian counteroffensive looming 15 months into the war, Moscow has intensified air strikes after a lull of nearly two months. Waves of attacks now come several times a week.

An explosion of a drone is seen in the sky over the city during a Russian drone strike in Kyiv, Ukraine May 28, 2023

The Sunday attacks came after Kyiv said that combat clashes eased around the besieged city of Bakhmut in south-eastern Ukraine, the site of the war's longest battle.

Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv's military administration, said the attack was carried out in several waves, and air alerts lasted more than five hours.

"Today, the enemy decided to 'congratulate' the people of Kyiv on Kyiv Day with the help of their deadly UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)," Popko said on the Telegram messaging channel.

Several districts of Kyiv, by far the largest Ukrainian city with a population of around 3 million, suffered in the overnight attacks, officials said, including the historical Pecherskyi neighbourhood.

Witnesses said that during the air raid alerts that started soon after midnight, many people stood on their balconies, some screaming offensives directed at Russia's President Vladimir Putin and "Glory to air defence" slogans.

In the leafy Holosiivskyi district in the southwestern part of Kyiv, falling debris set a three-storey warehouse on fire, destroying about 1,000 square metres (10,800 square feet) of building structures, Mayor Klitschko said.

A fire broke out after falling drone debris hit a seven-storey non-residential building in the Solomyanskyi district west of the city. The district is a busy rail and air transport hub.

In the Pecherskyi district, a fire broke out on the roof of a nine-storey building due to falling drone debris, and in the Darnytskyi district a shop was damaged, Kyiv's military administration officials said on Telegram.

With reporting by Reuters

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