Russia accused Ukraine on Sunday of launching a series of drone attacks, including one that injured at least five people and another that forced Moscow’s airports to close briefly, hours later Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed a military response to a Russian missile strike that killed seven. people.
There was no immediate comment from the Ukrainian military about the reported Russian drone attack. While Ukrainian officials usually do not claim responsibility for attacks on Russian soil, Mr Zelensky – who arrived in the Netherlands on Sunday after visiting Sweden – has suggested in recent weeks that the strikes about his government’s strategy.
Evidence suggests that the Kyiv government is increasingly deploying drones, including a model capable of flying hundreds of miles.
In recent weeks, drones have struck military and infrastructure targets, adding another dimension to a counteroffensive launched in June. The attacks also appear aimed at bringing some of the pain caused by Moscow’s relentless attacks on Ukrainian civilians back to Russia.
Nearly 9,500 Ukrainian civilians have been killed since the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, according to United Nations data, a number far less than Russia’s civilian casualties.
A Ukrainian drone hit the roof of a train station in the Russian city of Kursk, according to the official in charge of the region, which borders northeastern Ukraine. The governor of the region, Roman Starovoit, said on the Telegram messaging app that three people were taken to hospital but have since been released and two others were slightly injured and refused treatment.
Russian forces in the Rostov region, which borders eastern Ukraine, repelled the drone attack, according to Tass, the state news agency, citing the region’s governor, Vasily Golubev.
Also on Sunday, Russia’s aviation watchdog said it had temporarily suspended flights to Moscow’s Vnukovo and Domodedovo airports in response to an attempted drone attack, according to Reuters.
“The leadership of Russia’s Aerospace Forces is likely to be under intense pressure to improve air defenses in western Russia,” said a report on Sunday by Britain’s defense intelligence agency. “In recent months, the range of threats that penetrate inside Russia has increased.”
There is no clear connection between the strikes and Mr. Zelensky where he promised to respond to a Russian attack on Saturday in the city of Chernihiv, located about 80 miles northeast of the capital, Kyiv. A 6-year-old Sofia died in the attack along with six others and 144 people were injured including 15 children, he said.
“The missile just hit the center of the city,” he said in a late night speech. “I am sure that our soldiers will respond to Russia for this terrorist attack. Respond clearly.”
In a cruel irony, the missiles hit the city’s Taras Shevchenko Theater, which was hosting a meeting of businessmen and volunteers, according to the head of the regional military administration, Viacheslav Chaus, writing in Telegram . The theater was hosting an exhibition of drones at the time of the attack, according to Maria Berlinska, a co-organizer of the exhibition, in a post on Facebook.
Amid heavy fighting, Ukraine has recaptured some villages and regained some territory in the south and east of the country since it launched its counter-offensive but has yet to make a decisive breakthrough in the line of Moscow in the face of stubborn Russian resistance, strongly defended the barriers and many. mines.
Asked about the counter-offensive move, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, called for caution in making assessments and stressed the need for the country’s allies to provide more military assistance.
“What we really need are longer-term capabilities to achieve shorter-term results,” he said in an interview with German newspaper Bild.
For months, the government in Kyiv has called on the United States and other NATO countries to supply F-16 fighter jets to supplement the Soviet-era fleet, but last week the government acknowledged that they would not coming this year – as well. too late for the current military push.
Ukraine has now resumed its push to acquire Swedish Gripen fighter jets, and Mr Zelensky said during a visit to Sweden this week that the country was “getting closer” to getting them. He also reached a more tangible deal on Saturday involving the supply of armored vehicles.
Ukraine has received Soviet-era jets from Poland and Slovakia, but has yet to match Russian air power. Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden did not mention the combat planes during a news conference with Mr. Zelensky on Saturday.
Sweden has so far refused to send Gripens to Ukraine, with officials saying the jets – built by Saab – are needed to protect its own borders. invasion of Russia prompted Sweden, and neighboring Finland, to apply to join NATO. Finland has already become a member of the alliance, but Sweden’s application was blocked by Turkey.
On Saturday, Sweden and Ukraine announced a preliminary agreement covering production, maintenance and training for Sweden’s CV90 infantry fighting vehicle. So far in the war, Mr. Kristersson said, Sweden has provided $2.2 billion euros, or about $2.4 billion, in aid to Ukraine, including CV90s, Leopard tanks, Archer artillery systems and mine removal equipment.
“There is no task more important than supporting Ukraine in its fight for independence and territorial integrity,” said Mr. Kristersson, the Swedish leader. “Ukraine is fighting for us, for all European democracies.”