Ukraine ‘downs 40 drones’ as Russia launches fresh strikes targeting Kyiv

Kyiv residents look at a building struck by a Russian missile on New Years Day (Getty Images)
Kyiv residents look at a building struck by a Russian missile on New Years Day (Getty Images)

Russia launched around 40 drone strikes on Kyiv in a fresh wave of overnight attacks, Ukrainian officials said.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Monday morning that all drones were intercepted and destroyed by Ukrainian air defence forces.

He said 22 drones were destroyed over Kyiv, three in the outlying region and 15 over neighbouring provinces.

An infrastructure facility in the capital was damaged and an explosion took place in one city district, Mr Klitschko added.

It was not immediately clear whether the blast was caused by drones or other munitions.

In the larger Kyiv region, a "critical infrastructure object" and residential buildings were hit, governor Oleksiy Kuleba said.

Seven drones were shot down over the southern Mykolaiv region and three more were shot down in the south-eastern Dnipropetrovsk region.

It is the latest in a wave of major Russian attacks on Ukraine within 24 hours.

At lunchtime on New Year’s Eve missile attacks on Kyiv and the western city of Khmelnytskyi killed two people and injured 50.

Ukraine was subjected to a “cowardly” barrage of fresh attacks by Russia in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Russia claimed that attacks had struck Ukraine’s drone production facilities.

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It comes as British defence chiefs said that Russian and Ukrainian forces have been fighting for control of the P66 highway over the last five days.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the MoD said: “Over the last five days, Russian and Ukrainian forces have probably been fighting for control of the P66 highway, north of the Russian-held Luhansk Oblast town of Kremina.

“The P66 is a key supply route for the northern section of Russia’s Donbas front from the Belgorod region of Russia.

“Its use has been disrupted by Ukrainian artillery since October, but if Ukraine were able to secure the route, if would highly likely further undermine Russia’s defence of Kremina.”

Ukrainian drones have hit air bases inside Russia over the past few weeks and on New Year’s Eve Moscow’s air defence systems were raised to high alert.

Russia wants to destroy Ukraine’s heating infrastructure to undermine civilian morale over the winter but observers have said that 10 months of war have hardened the population.

Less than an hour before the drone attacks, president Volodymyr Zelensky referenced this tough Ukrainian spirit in his New Year’s Eve address.

"Millions of us made a choice," he said of Ukraine’s decision to protect its territory from Russian invaders. "Not a white flag, but a blue and yellow flag. Not escaping, but meeting. Meeting the enemy. Resisting and fighting."

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, warned on Sunday that Ukraine’s allies must be prepared to provide long-term support as Russia shows no signs of relenting.

Mr Stoltenberg told the BBC that military support would ensure the survival of Ukraine as a sovereign country and force Russia to negotiate an end to the war.

"The Ukrainian forces had the momentum for several months, but we also know that Russia has mobilised many more forces, many of them are now training," he said.

"All that indicates that they are prepared to continue the war and also try to potentially launch a new offensive."