Nighttime Drone Attack Rocks Kyiv As Putin Heads To Belarus

The drone strikes come as Russian President Putin is believed to be seeking some kind of Belarusian military support for his war in Ukraine.
Posted at 3:12 PM, Dec 19, 2022

Multiple explosive drones attacked Ukraine's capital before dawn Monday as Moscow pursues its campaign to torment the invaded country from the air amid a broad battlefield stalemate.

In a sign that Russia might be seeking ways to bolster its depleted forces, President Vladimir Putin traveled to Belarus, which provided the Kremlin’s troops with a launch pad for the invasion of Ukraine almost 10 months ago.

The drone attack came three days after what Ukrainian officials described as one of Russia's biggest assaults on Kyiv since the war started. Moscow has targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure since October as part of a strategy to try to leave the country without heat and light during the bitterly cold winter.

It has kept up that effort despite Western sanctions and the supply of Western air defense systems to Ukrainian forces.

Russia launched 23 self-exploding drones over Kyiv while the city slept, but Ukrainian forces shot down 18 of them, the Kyiv city administration said on Telegram. No major casualties were reported from the attack, although the Ukrainian president’s office said the war killed at least three civilians and wounded 11 elsewhere in the country between Sunday and Monday.

The drone barrage caused emergency power outages in 11 central and eastern regions of the country, including the capital region, authorities said.

Kyiv Prepares For A Winter With No Heat, Water Or Power

Kyiv Prepares For A Winter With No Heat, Water Or Power

Russia has focused on striking Ukraine's energy infrastructure over the last month, causing power shortages and rolling outages across the country.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the unrelenting daily barrages as “terror” and once again pleaded for Western countries to send sophisticated air defense systems as winter tightens its grip.

“A 100% air defense shield for Ukraine will be one of the most successful steps against Russian aggression,” Zelenskyy said by video link at a northern European regional threat conference in Latvia. “This step is needed right now.”

Bits of wreckage from the downed drones damaged a road in the central Solomianskyi district and broke windows in a multi-story building in the Shevchenkyvskyi district of Kyiv, city officials said.

Ukraine's air force said on Telegram that its personnel were able to destroy 30 of at least 35 self-exploding drones that Russia launched across the country from the eastern side of the Azov Sea on Ukraine's southeast coast. Russia is on the other side of the sea.

The Ukrainian military has reported increasing success in shooting down incoming Russian missiles and explosive drones, but Zelenskyy said Moscow had received a fresh batch of drones from Iran.

Putin arrived in Belarus on Monday for talks with its authoritarian leader, President Alexander Lukashenko, who allowed Russian forces to use Belarusian territory for invading Ukraine and has close defense links with Moscow.

Sitting alongside Lukashenko before their talks in the capital of Belarus, Putin emphasized the close military-technical ties between the two allies, adding that they include not only mutual supplies of equipment but also joint work in high-tech military industries.

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Klitschko discusses the future of the war in Ukraine amid new threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin.


It was a rare trip to Minsk by Putin, who usually receives Lukashenko at the Kremlin. Belarus is believed to have Soviet-era weapons stockpiles that could be useful for Moscow, while Lukashenko needs help with his country’s ailing economy.

Analysts say the Kremlin might look again for some kind of Belarusian military support for its Ukraine operations. But the winter weather and Russia's depleted resources mean any attack probably won't come soon, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank in Washington.

“The capacity of the Russian military, even reinforced by elements of the Belarusian armed forces, to prepare and conduct effective large-scale mechanized offensive operations in the next few months remains questionable,” the think tank said in an assessment published Sunday.

It also concluded that "it is unlikely that Lukashenko will commit the Belarusian military (which would also have to be re-equipped) to the invasion of Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, warships from Russia’s Pacific Fleet set off Monday to take part in joint naval drills with China. The exercise follows a series of joint maneuvers that have highlighted growing military cooperation between Moscow and Beijing as they both face tensions with the United States.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the United States was treading on dangerous ground by getting involved in the war in Ukraine.

“This dangerous and shortsighted policy has put the U.S. and Russia on the brink of a direct confrontation,” Zakharova said in a statement Monday. “Moscow is calling on Joe Biden’s administration to soberly assess the situation and refrain from dangerous escalation.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.