Russia hammered Ukraine with a new barrage of missiles and drones in the early hours of Monday morning, as Moscow gears up to celebrate victory over the Nazis in World War II.
In the Kyiv region, Ukrainian air defense shot down 35 Iranian-made Shahed drones, according to Ukraine’s air force. But the debris damaged several buildings and injured civilians. Russian bombers also fired at least eight cruise missiles at the Odesa region, leaving food warehouses destroyed.
Russia celebrates the Soviet triumph over Hitler on May 9 annually, and President Vladimir Putin has used the holiday to boost his strongman image during his decades in power.
But this year’s celebrations will be somewhat muted, with Putin canceling parades in Russia’s Kursk and Belgorod regions, which border Ukraine, and in Russian-occupied Crimea, citing security concerns. Moscow is now in the second year of its full-scale war on Ukraine and there’s no sign of imminent victory, while even the Kremlin is no longer completely safe after last week’s drone attack.
Ukraine said all the drones were shot down, but falling debris still caused destruction. At least five people were injured, reported Sergiy Popko, head of Kyiv region’s military administration. Several cars were destroyed, and residential buildings, a diesel reservoir and a gas pipe were damaged.
Ukraine’s southern Odesa region also came under fire. The Ukrainian army reported that Russia fired at least eight cruise missiles at the region.
“X-22 type missiles hit the warehouse of one of the food enterprises and the recreational zone on the Black Sea coast,” the Ukrainian military said. “Emergency services work at the scene. Three people, all workers of the warehouse, got minor injuries. One person is missing,” Yuriy Kruk, head of Odesa district military administration, reported.
On the eve of Russia’s V-Day, the strikes come as the Kremlin struggles to break a stalemate in Bakhmut, which it has spent months attacking. Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has veered wildly in recent days, first threatening to pull his forces out of Bakhmut over a row with the Kremlin’s top military officials — then announcing his troops would remain on the battlefield.
Ukraine’s top priority is to hold Bakhmut through May 9 — and embarrass Putin in the process.