kyiv, Ukraine — Several drones struck the Ukrainian capital before dawn Monday, according to local authorities, as Russian President Vladimir Putin prepared a visit to his ally Belarus, which has provided a base for Kremlin forces. for its invasion of Ukraine nearly 10 months ago.

The drone offensive came three days after what was described as one of the biggest Russian attacks on kyiv since the start of the war. Moscow kept up its efforts to torment Ukraine from the air despite a lack of major battlefield moves.

Russia dropped 23 explosive drones on kyiv while the city slept, but Ukrainian forces shot down 18 of them, the kyiv municipal government said on Telegram. No major casualties were reported from the attack, although the Ukrainian president’s office said at least three civilians had been killed and 11 wounded in other parts of the country between Sunday and Monday.

The drones caused emergency power outages in 11 regions in the center and east of the country, including the capital, according to authorities.

Monday was Saint Nicholas Day, which marks the start of Christmas in Ukraine and the date when children usually receive their first gifts, hidden under their pillows.

“This is how the Russians congratulated our children on the holidays,” Serhii Kruk, director of the State Emergency Service, wrote on Telegram, sharing images of barely visible firefighters amidst the flames of an attacked infrastructure facility.

“At night, when the whole world expected a miracle, the terrorist country continues to terrorize the peaceful Ukrainian people,” said Ukraine’s human rights officer Dmytro Lubinets.

Debris from the downed drones damaged a street in the central Solomianskyi district and smashed windows in a multi-storey building in the Shevchenkyvskyi district, according to the local government.

A drone hit the home of Olha and Ivan Kobzarenko, 84 and 83, on the outskirts of the capital. Ivan suffered a head injury.

His garage was completely destroyed and his dog, Malysh, was killed in the attack. In his room, where broken glass and blood were visible on the floor, Olha said the explosion had thrown the front door into the house.

“I know I’m not alone,” he said. “Everyone suffers. Everybody”.

A critical infrastructure facility was hit, authorities said without elaborating.

Although the capital appeared to be the main Russian target on Monday, the military reported attacks in other parts of the country.

Some infrastructure facilities had suffered damage, as well as private homes, and there were at least two injured, the governor of the kyiv region, Oleksii Kuleba, said on Telegram.

kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko added that explosions had been heard in two districts, Shevchenkivskyi and Solomianskyi. He also said on Telegram that no casualties had been immediately reported, and that emergency services were working in the area.

Although the capital appeared to be the main target of the barrage, the armed forces reported attacks in other parts of the country.

The Air Force said it had destroyed 30 of at least 35 explosive drones launched by Russia at different locations in Ukraine from the eastern shore of the Azov Sea.

The Ukrainian military has reported increasing success in shooting down explosive missiles and drones.

Russia is attacking energy infrastructure, including in kyiv, as part of a strategy to leave Ukrainians without light or heat in the dead of winter, which it has kept going despite Western sanctions and Ukrainian forces receiving Western anti-aircraft systems.

The Ukrainian capital was attacked on Friday as part of a massive Russian offensive. Dozens of missiles were launched at locations across the country, causing widespread blackouts.

Putin was scheduled to travel to Belarus on Monday to meet the country’s authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, who allowed Russian forces to use Belarusian territory to invade Ukraine and has close defensive ties with Moscow.

Analysts noted that the Kremlin could again seek some military support for its operations in Ukraine. But the winter and Russia’s depleted resources mean no major attack is likely imminent, according to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.

“The ability of the Russian military, even reinforced by elements of the Belarusian armed forces, to prepare and execute large-scale mechanized offensives in the coming months remains questionable,” the think tank said in an analysis published on Sunday.

The institute also concluded that “Lukashenko is unlikely to commit the Belarusian army – which would also have to be re-equipped – in the invasion of Ukraine.”

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