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Russia unleashes huge drone attack on Kyiv ahead of expected counter-offensive

Russia has unleashed a huge drone attack on Kyiv overnight killing at least one person as a Ukrainian counter-offensive looms.

Dozens of kamikaze drones were launched against the capital with 52 out of 54 shot down by Ukrainian air defences, Ukraine’s Air Force said in what officials said was the largest drone attack of the war.

Military facilities and critical infrastructure were targeted in the central regions of Ukraine and the Kyiv region, air force officials said.

A 41-year-old man was killed and a 35-year-old woman was injured after suicide drone wreckage fell near a petrol station according to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

The pre-dawn attacks came as residents prepared to celebrate Kyiv Day, the anniversary of the city’s official founding 1,541 years ago.

A counter-offensive from Ukraine is expected to be launched imminently as president Volodymr Zelensky’s forces try to push back Russian troops in the east and south of Ukraine.

Rescuers work at a site of a building damaged during a Russian suicide drone strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 28, 2023. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko.
Rescuers work at a site of a building damaged during a Russian suicide drone strike in Kyiv (Photo: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)

Ahead of the expected Ukrainian surge, the Kremlin has intensified air strikes after a lull of nearly two months, targeting mainly military sites and supplies, with waves of attacks several times a week.

Andriy Yermak, the head of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office, said on Telegram: “The history of Ukraine is a long-standing irritant for the insecure Russians.”

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),” Mr Popko said on Telegram.

Russia’s ambassador to the UK has warned of an escalation to the war in Ukraine as Britain and other Western allies commit more weapons to aid President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Speaking to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, Andrei Kelin said the actions of Nato countries, “especially” the UK, risk lengthening and triggering a “new dimension” in the war.

He said Russia had “enormous resources” and despite the war already raging for over a year, he claimed his country had not yet started to “act very seriously”.

Mr Kelin said: “Russia is 16 times bigger than Ukraine. We have enormous resources.

“Sooner or later, of course, this escalation may get a new dimension which we do not need and we do not want. We can make peace tomorrow.”

When asked about widespread mounting evidence of Russia’s war crimes, the ambassador said Ukraine was the one committing war crimes.

He then changed tack and said the United Nations had no power to investigate war crimes.

This handout picture taken and released by Kyiv City Military Administration on May 28, 2023, shows an appartment damaged as a result of falling debris after a massive drone attack overnight in Kyiv. (Photo by Handout / KYIV CITY MILITARY ADMINISTRATION / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HANDOUT / KYIV CITY MILITARY ADMINISTRATION" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo by HANDOUT/KYIV CITY MILITARY ADMINISTRATIO/AFP via Getty Images)
Apartments were damaged after Russia launched a wave of suicide drones at Kyiv, with 52 out of 54 drones shot down according to Ukrainian officials (Photo: Handout / Kyiv City Military Administration/ AFP)

Witnesses said that the sirens started around midnight with, falling debris setting a three-storey warehouse on fire, destroying about 10,800 square feet of buildings in In the Holosiivskyi district in the southwestern part of Kyiv, 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.

On Friday, Russia’s southern Belgorod region bordering Ukraine came under attack from Ukrainian artillery fire, mortar shells and drones, authorities said, hours after two drones struck a Russian city in an area next to the annexed Crimea Peninsula.

Moscow’s forces struck a building containing psychology and veterinary clinics in the city of Dnipro, in central Ukraine, killing two people and wounding 30, including two children, Ukrainian officials said.

A Russian S-300 missile also hit a dam in the Karlivka district of Donetsk province in eastern Ukraine, threatening nearby settlements with flooding.

(With agencies)

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