Ukraine on Saturday said it had downed 74 out of 75 drones Russia launched at it overnight, in what it said was the biggest such attack since the start of the invasion in February last year.
The Ukrainian army said Russia had launched a “record number” of Iranian-made Shahed drones, the majority of which targeted Kyiv, causing power cuts as temperatures dipped below freezing. The drone attack came as Ukraine marked Holodomor Remembrance Day, commemorating the 1930s starvation of millions in Ukraine under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
“The enemy launched a record number of attack drones at Ukraine. The main direction of the attack is Kyiv,” krainian Air Force Commande General Mykola Oleshchuk said.
The air force said it had downed “74 out of 75” Shahed drones.
Kyiv authorities said five people, including an 11-year-old, were wounded in the capital, where the air raid lasted six hours.
Falling drone debris had sparked fires and damaged buildings across the city, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics, on a visit to Kyiv during the attack, posted a photograph of himself on social media inside a dark bomb shelter.
Ukraine’s army said that while the “main target” of the attack was Kyiv, air defences had also been called into action across the south.
Kyiv said it was “symbolic” that the capital had been the subject of such a large-scale attack on the day Ukraine marks Holodomor.
“More than 70 Shahed on the night of the Holodomor Remembrance Day... The Russian leadership is proud of the fact that it can kill,” Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on social media.
Zelenskiy attended a ceremony with Kyiv’s top military brass, holding candles, to mark the event. “We mark the solemn anniversary of the Holodomor as the brave people of Ukraine continue to defend their freedom and Ukraine’s sovereignty against Russia’s brutal war of aggression,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement.
“Ninety years ago, the inhumane polices of Joseph Stalin and the Soviet regime created the ‘death by hunger’,” he said. “Today, Ukraine’s agricultural infrastructure is once more being deliberately targeted-this time by Vladimir Putin as part of his drive for conquest and power.”
Zelenskiy told an international summit on food security in Kyiv that Ukraine needs more air defenses to protect its grain export routes, as well as regions that border with Russia.
“There is a deficit of air defense — that is no secret,” Zelenskiy told the Grain from Ukraine summit, which was attended by senior officials from European countries, including Swiss President Alain Berset and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte.
Ukraine says Holodomor — Ukrainian for “death by starvation” — was caused deliberately by Soviet agricultural policies. Moscow denies this.
“They tried to subjugate us, to kill us, to exterminate us,” Zelensky said. “They failed.”
Additional reporting by Reuters
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