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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Ukraine’s capital wakes to explosions as air defenses shoot down drones

Two government buildings in Kyiv and at least four homes in the region surrounding the capital were damaged, Ukrainian officials said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

By Marc Santora and Andrew E. Kramer

Russia attacked Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, before dawn on Wednesday, sending 13 Iranian-made drones from the Sea of Azov to the city, according to Ukrainian officials. Most of the drones were destroyed by Ukrainian air defenses, they said, and there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Two government buildings in Kyiv and at least four homes in the region surrounding the capital were damaged, officials said, but it was unclear whether they were hit by direct strikes or falling debris from drones shot out of the sky.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine praised the air defense systems in a brief video message published on the Telegram messaging app and said that all of the drones appeared to have been shot down.

Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine have been subject to Russian missile attacks in recent weeks that have taken out power and other infrastructure as the country heads into the cold winter months.

The attack on Kyiv on Wednesday followed drone strikes on Odesa over the weekend, which seemed to end a recent weekslong pause in Russia’s use of Iranian-made drones.

Kyrylo O. Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, told Ukrainian media in October that Russia had used about 330 Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in the war against Ukraine, of which 222 had been shot down. He said Russia had ordered about 1,700 drones, which were being delivered in batches of 300 at a time. It was not possible to independently verify the claims, but they correspond with estimates from Western officials and military analysts.

The first sound that Yaroslav Vinokurov, 24, heard Wednesday shortly before 6 a.m. was the wailing of the air-raid alarm in the darkness. He continued to get ready for work, given that alarms sound nearly every day. But soon machine-gun fire echoed through the Shevchenkivskyi district as air-defense systems flashed in the sky, followed by what he described as “a very loud explosion.”

“I lay down on the floor, as I didn’t know what else can happen,” Vinokurov said. Only once it was quiet did he go outside.

The roof of a nearby government building was damaged, and debris littered the area. “My car is destroyed,” he said, looking over the damage.

Residents rushed to put sheets, blankets and whatever else they could find onto damaged windows to protect themselves from the bitter cold. It was 23 degrees Fahrenheit — well below freezing — when the sun rose about 7:50 a.m.

Just two days before the strikes, Yurii Ihnat, the spokesman for Ukraine’s air force, warned that Russian forces were now using attack drones at night. If the drones are launched during the day, he said, Ukrainians can use large-caliber machine guns and other small arms to shoot them down. But in the darkness, they need expensive and limited air defense missile systems that can track the incoming drones by radar.

Even in the darkness, residents of the capital have become familiar with the sounds of Russia’s unrelenting aerial bombardment.

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