Russia's forces used Iranian-made kamikaze drones to attack Ukraine's capital and Odesa regions Thursday and slammed other areas with missiles as Moscow punished the country for a fourth day for a truck bomb attack on a landmark Russian bridge.
A strike carried out near Makrariv, a small city located 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Kyiv, destroyed critical infrastructure. Throughout the capital region, residents whose lives had resumed some normalcy when the war moved east months ago again awoke to air raid sirens.
It wasn't clear if the explosive-packed drones caused any casualties. Ukrainian officials said 13 people were killed and 37 wounded in the past day in Russian missile strikes that targeted nine regions of Ukraine.
Russia resumed widespread attacks in Ukraine on Monday following an explosion that damaged the Kerch Bridge, a 12-mile span that links Russian with the annexed Crimean Peninsula. The 12-mile-long bridge carries military supplies to Ukraine as well as importance as a symbol of Russia's power.
The speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament on Thursday said Russian forces struck more than 70 energy facilities in Ukraine this week and threatened an “even tougher” response to future attacks by “the Kyiv regime,” although Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the bridge bombing.
“All the organizers and perpetrators of the terrorist attacks must be found; those who resist must be destroyed,” State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on Telegram.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that a massive barrage of missile strikes all across Ukraine was carried out in retaliation for what he called Kyiv’s “terrorist” actions targeting the Kerch Bridge. Putin vowed a “tough” and “proportionate” response to Ukrainian attacks that threatened Russia’s security.
Kyiv was hit at least four times during Monday’s massive strikes, which killed at least 19 people and wounded more than 100 across the country.
In the southern city of Mykolaiv, overnight shelling destroyed a five-story apartment building as fighting continued along Ukraine’s southern front. Mykolaiv regional governor Vitali Kim said an 11-year-old boy was rescued from under the rubble, where he had spent six hours, and rescuers on Thursday morning were searching for seven more people, Kim said.
He said that the building was hit by an S-300 missile, a type ordinarily used for targeting military aircraft but the Russian military appears to be increasingly using for unprecise ground strikes.
Early morning attacks on Ukraine’s southern front have become a daily occurrence in Russia's war as Kyiv’s forces push a counteroffensive aimed at recapturing territory occupied by Moscow.
Western leaders this week pledged to send more weapons to Ukraine, including air defense systems and weapons Kyiv has said are critical to defeating the invading Russian forces.
Britain said Thursday it would provide missiles for advanced NASAM anti-aircraft systems that the Pentagon plans to send to Ukraine in the coming weeks. It’s also sending hundreds of additional aerial drones for information gathering and logistics support, plus 18 more howitzer artillery guns.
U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said “these weapons will help Ukraine defend its skies from attacks and strengthen their overall missile defense alongside the U.S. NASAMS.”
The systems, which Kyiv has long wanted, will provide medium- to long-range defense against missile attacks.
The offer came as NATO defense ministers met in Brussels, aiming to help bolster Ukraine’s aerial defenses after Russia's attacks this week.
Ukraine’s military said its current air defenses have shot down dozens of incoming Russian missiles and Shahed-136 drones, the so-called kamikaze drones that have played an increasingly deadly role in the war.
Ukraine's air force command said Thursday its air defense shot down six Iranian drones from over the Odesa and Mykolaiv regions during the night. Ukrainian officials said that Iranian instructors based in the occupied regions of Ukraine have trained Russians how to operate the drones.