Friday September 22, 2023

Russia retaliates after Ukrainian 'attack' on Putin

Ukrainian air force said it shot down 18 attack drones in cooperation with other air defence units

May 04, 2023
A damaged residential building and a crater after missile strikes in Chasiv Yar, Ukraine on May 3, 2023. — AFP
A damaged residential building and a crater after missile strikes in Chasiv Yar, Ukraine on May 3, 2023. — AFP

KYIV: Russia fired up to 24 attack drones against Ukraine overnight, 18 of which were shot down, Ukraine's air force said on Thursday, a day after Moscow accused Kyiv of a drone attack on the Kremlin.

"The invaders launched up to 24 Shahed-136/131 attack drones... The Air Force of Ukraine, in cooperation with other air defence units, shot down 18 attack drones," the air force said on Telegram.

Sergiy Popko, the head of the city of Kyiv's military administration, said that according to preliminary information "all enemy missiles and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) were destroyed over Kyiv by air defense forces".

Popko said it was the third day of attempted strikes on Kyiv in May.

"Our city has not experienced such intensity of strikes since the beginning of this year," Popko said.

He said that debris from the downed drones had fallen on different parts of Kyiv but there were no casualties.

The development comes after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday denied Moscow’s claim that his country attempted to assassinate Russian leader Vladimir Putin after Russia said two drones were shot down over the Kremlin.

"We didn't attack Putin [...] We fight on our territory, we are defending our villages and cities," Zelensky told reporters at a press conference with Nordic leaders in Helsinki.

"We don’t attack Putin or Moscow. We don’t have enough weapons for this," he added.

Russia said Wednesday it had shot down two drones targeting Putin’s Kremlin residence in what it called a Ukrainian "terrorist" assassination attempt.

"The devices were put out of action," a Kremlin statement said.

Moscow said Putin was not hurt and there were no casualties.

Asked about why Moscow would accuse Kyiv, Zelensky replied, "Russia has no victories."

"He (Putin) can no longer motivate his society and he can no longer send his military to die for nothing," he said.

The Ukrainian leader on Wednesday participated in a summit in Helsinki gathering the leaders of the five Nordic nations.

Zelensky reaffirmed that Ukraine aims to become a member of NATO, while the Nordic NATO members issued a statement declaring they would "continue to support Ukraine on its path towards future membership."

"Ukraine is already a de facto member of NATO and we are actually cooperating for the sake of common defence," Zelensky said.