Efrem Lukatsky Associated Press Firefighter examines damage to apartment building after largest Russian drone attack on Kiev, November 25, 2023.
The Ukrainian capital, Kiev, was targeted overnight by the largest Russian drone attack since the start of the country's invasion in February 2022, depriving electricity to dozens of apartment buildings and other buildings.
This bombing comes on the day Ukraine commemorates the Holodomor, the great famine of the 1930s, during the Soviet era, a “genocide” orchestrated according to Kiev by Joseph Stalin and which caused the death of millions of Ukrainians.
On Saturday morning, the Ukrainian Air Force claimed to have shot down 71 Iranian-made Shahed attack drones launched overnight by Russia. “Most of them were destroyed in the Kiev region,” she said.
Five people, including an 11-year-old child, were injured in the strike, local authorities in Kiev said, assuring that it was the “most massive attack since the start of the invasion” of Ukraine.
The air alert in the capital lasted six hours and falling debris from drones caused fires and damaged buildings, added Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko. “The enemy continues to sow terror,” he lamented.
The attack also caused large-scale power cuts in the capital after the rupture of “a power line 'power supply', according to Ukraine's Energy Ministry, as temperatures fell below zero.
AFP journalists saw residents clearing broken glass in the Dniprovsky district of Kiev, with ambulances parked nearby.
Resident Viktor Vassylenko said he tried to calm his little daughter all night during the attack because she was in “panic and nausea.”
“If there’s an air raid, we always sit in the hallway,” the 38-year-old said. This time, “my wife thought the house was going to collapse,” he adds.
As winter approaches, Kiev is preparing for a new bombing campaign massive Russian attacks targeting its energy infrastructure and fears a situation similar to that of winter 2022 when millions of people were deprived of power in the middle of a cold wave.
According to Ukrainian authorities, Moscow made the “symbolic” choice to launch this vast strike on Saturday, at a time when Ukraine commemorates the Holodomor, the famine which decimated the Ukrainian countryside 90 years ago.
< p>Russia, for its part, emphasizes that this famine caused victims not only of Ukraine, but also of Russians, Kazakhs and other nationalities, in a context of land collectivization.
“More than 70 ( drones) Shahed during the night of the Holodomor commemoration […]. Russian leaders are proud of their ability to kill,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky first reacted.
In a statement, the head of state then deemed it “impossible to forget, understand and above all forgive the horrible crimes of genocide that Ukrainians endured in the 20th century” during the Holodomor.
< p>“They tried to subjugate us, to kill us, to exterminate us,” he also said. “They failed.”
Global food security
This drone attack also took place before a meeting in kyiv on the export of Ukrainian grain, hampered by the war. Mr. Zelensky, on this occasion, raised $100 million to facilitate this trade.
Swiss President Alain Berset indicated that he was taking part in this forum. “The focus is on the impact of Russia's war of aggression on global food security and Switzerland's long-term support for Ukraine,” he wrote on Twitter).
For almost a year, Ukraine was able to export its agricultural production via the Black Sea thanks to an agreement with Russia, but Moscow put an end to this in July and repeatedly bombed Ukrainian port infrastructure.
Kiev has since set up a new corridor in the Black Sea but it remains little used given the risks incurred by ships.
Ukrainian agricultural exports are also causing tensions in neighboring EU countries and particularly in Poland, where truckers and farmers have been blocking border crossings for several days.