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Russia continues ‘kamikaze’ drone attacks; Ukraine says all 16 were downed

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his address to the nation at the Kremlin in Moscow on Feb. 21, 2022. (ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Air-raid sirens blared in Kyiv early on December 30 as another wave of drones launched by Russia at Ukraine’s capital and other cities were intercepted, a day after Moscow carried out one of its heaviest air attacks since it invaded its neighbor more than 10 months ago.

Ukrainian officials said military air defenses destroyed “all” of the 16 Iranian-made Shahed drones Russian forces fired at Kyiv and other cities.

“Overnight December 29-30, the enemy attacked with Iranian-made kamikaze drones,” the Ukrainian Air Force said in a statement on December 30.

Kyiv was targeted with seven drones, according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko, who said two of the drones were shot down “on approach to the capital,” while the five others were intercepted over the city.

He said there were no casualties, but the windows of two buildings in the city’s southwest were damaged by falling debris. An administrative building in Kyiv’s Holosiiv district was partially destroyed, military authorities added.

The raids came a day after Russian forces pounded cities throughout Ukraine, killing at least three people.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, commenting on the situation along the front line on December 30, said that the fiercest battles continue in the Donbas region.

According to him, the Ukrainian military is holding positions and in some areas advancing.

The fiercest battles are in Bakhmut, Soledar, and Kreminna, he said in his evening video address. “In general, we hold our positions” and there are also areas “where we are advancing little by little,” he said.

Russian strikes have targeted civilian infrastructure in recent months, leaving millions of people without electricity, heating, and water as Ukraine’s harsh winter weather bites down on the country.

Zelenskiy said on December 29 that the situation at the front line had not seen significant changes, with fighting in the eastern Donetsk region still remains very intense.

“The enemy did not give up the crazy idea of capturing [the] Donetsk region. Now they are setting themselves a task for the New Year,” he said.

In an interview with the German news agency dpa, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on the alliance’s members to supply more weapons to Ukraine, saying it was “in all our security interests to make sure Ukraine prevails.”

“It may sound like a paradox, but military support for Ukraine is the fastest way to peace. We know that most wars end at the negotiating table — probably this war, too — but we know that what Ukraine can achieve in these negotiations depends inextricably on the military situation,” he added.

Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin had given no indication that he has changed his overall objective of the war — “to control Ukraine” — making it necessary to “prepare for the long haul and also for new Russian offensives.”

“We should not underestimate Russia,” he said.

Early on December 30, Ukraine’s General Staff said that Russian forces had launched 85 missile strikes, 35 air strikes, and 63 strikes from multiple-rocket launch systems over the past 24 hours.

The numbers could not be independently verified.