Russian suicide drones fell once again on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv Monday, as Russian leader Vladimir Putin made a visit to Belarus — stoking fears that the Kremlin wants military support from Ukraine’s neighbor to the north.
The third airstrike on Kyiv and its surrounding area in six days, Monday’s swarm of drones left three people injured and damaged nine buildings in the capital, Ukrainian authorities said.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko said “critical infrastructure facilities” had been damaged in the attack.
Explosions were reported in the Solomianskyi district, home to a train station and one of the city’s two airports, though it was unclear Monday if either facility had been hit.
An energy facility in the central Shevchenkivskyi was on fire after the attack, with a witness saying he heard two explosions at the plant.
Russia has been targeting Ukrainian infrastructure, and especially its power grid, in a wave of bombardments since the country began losing ground to Ukrainian counter attacks in the fall.
The attacks have strained Ukrainian energy production throughout the country, and endangered basic services like heat and running water in the middle of the cold Ukrainian winter.
“Engineers are working to quickly stabilize the situation with energy and heat supply,” Klitschko told Ukrainians on the Telegram messaging app Monday.
Leaders in Kyiv said the city’s air defenses downed 18 of the 23 drones sent by Moscow.
Nationwide, 30 drones were shot down, the Ukrainian Air Force said.
The nation’s atomic energy authority, Energoatom, accused the Russians of flying a drone over the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in the Mykolaiv province
“This is an absolutely unacceptable violation of nuclear and radiation safety,” the agency wrote in a statement posted to social media.
Meanwhile, Putin traveled to Minsk on Monday to meet with Belarus’ autocratic leader Alexander Lukashenko.
Lukashenko — who is widely seen as dependent on Putin in the face of public protests — allowed his nation to serve as a staging ground for Russia’s ill-fated push into northern Ukraine in February.
Whether Belarusian forces will join the Russian military in its efforts to subjugate Ukraine remain unclear — though Lukashenko has repeatedly said he has no intention of joining the war.
Russian troops have trained and resupplied in Belarus throughout the war, and the Russian Defense Ministry has said that Russian forces sent to Belarus in October are in the country for training exercises.
Kremlin spokesman Dimtry Peskov called any suggestion that Putin sought to push Lukashenko into the war “stupid” and “groundless,” Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.
with Post wires