KIEV (Reuters) – Russia on Saturday launched a missile attack on the Ukrainian capital Kiev and the surrounding area for the first time in more than seven weeks, Ukrainian officials said, and bombed the east and south of the country with drones.
Ukrainian border guards said they had recaptured a village in the northeast of the country adjacent to the Russian border.
Officials in the east, the focus of Russia’s slow 20-month advance, said Ukrainian forces had repelled several attacks by Russian forces, and they expected more attacks, especially around the devastated town of Avdiivka.
Serhiy Popko, head of the military administration of the city of Kiev, said that a Russian ballistic missile was launched towards the capital at around eight in the morning (0600 GMT).
“After a long pause that lasted 52 days, the enemy resumed its missile attacks on Kiev,” Bobko said via the Telegram messaging application. He added, “The missile failed to reach Kiev, and was shot down by air defenses as it approached the capital.”
Bobko said there were no injuries or serious damage.
Ruslan Kravchenko, regional governor of the Central Kiev region, said five private homes and several commercial buildings in the area were damaged. He said that two Russian missiles hit a field located between the settlements.
The Ukrainian air defenses also shot down 19 Iranian-made Shahed drones out of 31 launched by Russian forces overnight in the southern and eastern regions, the Ukrainian Air Force said.
“This is not the first or last joint attack,” Ukrainian intelligence official Andriy Yusov told national television. He pointed to the increasing number of weather warnings in recent days.
Ukrainian flag in the border village
An online video from the Kharkiv region showed border guards raising the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag in the village of Topoli along the Russian border, without further explanation. A year ago, Ukrainian forces launched a lightning attack to regain large areas of territory in the northeast of the country, and since June they have launched a counterattack in the east and south.
Prosecutors in the northern Sumy region said that two people on a motorcycle were killed when Russian forces bombed the road.
In the east, military spokesman Oleksandr Shtubun said Ukrainian forces repelled 35 Russian attacks in and near Avdiivka, which has come under intense fire since mid-October.
Stubon told national television that 70 percent of air strikes in the east and south targeted Avdiivka.
Officials in Avdiivka say they expect a new Russian attack on the city once the ground dries out after days of heavy rain. Videos show buildings completely destroyed and officials say growing numbers of the remaining 1,500 residents, out of a pre-war population of 32,000, are preparing to evacuate.
In the Black Sea port of Odessa, regional governor Oleh Kiper said the southern region was attacked by missiles and drones on Friday evening and overnight. He added that the raids injured three people and damaged port infrastructure facilities, without providing further details.
Russia has intensified its bombing of Ukrainian ports, including Odessa, and grain infrastructure since Moscow withdrew in July from an agreement allowing exports from Ukrainian ports.
Russian accounts of the fighting said its forces struck positions near Bakhmut, a town Moscow took control of in May after months of heavy fighting.
Reuters was unable to verify either side’s accounts.
(Reporting by Olena Harmash) Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Ron Popeski and David Gregorio
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