Kyiv suffers another Russian attack on civilian targets, this time with Iranian-made drones

KYIV — Residents of the Ukrainian capital on Monday were once again woken by air raid sirens and explosions as Russia launched a large-scale assault on the city, using its new Iranian-supplied Shahed-136 suicide drones, almost exactly a week after its last attack on Kyiv. According to Mayor Vitali Klitschko, at least four people were killed.

The barrage of remote-piloted “kamikaze” aircraft began a little after 6:40 a.m. Multiple explosions and gunfire could be heard across the city as the drones flew slowly toward their targets. Ukrainian defenders, both law enforcement and ordinary citizens, attempted to shoot them down.

A drone in the air as seen from below.
A drone approaches for an attack in Kyiv on Monday. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the Kyiv City State Administration, 28 of the drones targeted Kyiv. Ukrainians have derisively nicknamed them “flying balalaikas” owing to their resemblance to the Russian stringed instrument, or “flying mopeds” because of the high-pitched buzzing sounds their engines make. Ukrainian forces say they shot down a majority of the drones, with local air defense recently bolstered by Western security assistance since last week’s terror bombing, but at least five detonated around the busy Shevchenkivskyi district of Kyiv.

Two men, one fallen on the ground, are seen after a blast. High flames and smoke are in the background.
A blast following a drone attack in Kyiv on Monday. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images)

The Shahed-136s, supplied by Russia’s ally Iran, are cumbersome and unsophisticated but still carry an 88-pound warhead, which can wreak immense damage. And at an estimated cost of $20,000 each, they are extremely cheap in comparison to Russia’s more high-tech but dwindling stockpile of cruise missiles. Ukrainian intelligence claims that Iran has supplied 2,400 of these drones to Russia. The Iranian government still flatly denies these claims in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

One of the Shaheds appeared to have “for Belgorod” written in Russian on its fuselage, a possible reference to recent Ukrainian attacks on military targets in the Russian city, just 50 miles north of Kharkiv, that has been used as a springboard for the invasion of eastern Ukraine.

Firefighters work atop a steaming pile of rubble after a drone fired on buildings.
Firefighters work after a drone fired on buildings in Kyiv on Monday. (Roman Hrytsyna/AP)

Ukrainian military and police on the ground engaged the incoming UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) with whatever small arms they had to hand — assault rifles, pistols and even shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. Dramatic footage captured by the Kyiv city police’s bodycams showed patrolmen scrambling to engage these winged bombs before taking cover as they detonated yards away from their position. One Ukrainian civilian was even pictured leaning out of his apartment window, firing what appeared to be a shotgun to try to pick them off.

A police officer fires a rifle at a flying drone on a Kyiv street.
A police officer fires at a flying drone amid attacks in Kyiv on Monday. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images)

As of 9 a.m. local time, smoke was pouring from residential and commercial buildings that had caught fire. Ukrainian firefighters and EMTs had already arrived, dousing the flames and attending to civilians who had been wounded as a result of the blasts. A five-story czarist-era building had been half-demolished by one explosion, and rescuers combed through the rubble, looking for survivors. Anxious relatives waited behind the police cordon for any news of their loved ones.

Medics help an injured woman sitting on a sidewalk.
Medics help an injured woman after drones fired on buildings in Kyiv on Monday. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

One of the relatives, Denis Koval, a market trader, had just left the building for work. He told Yahoo News that his 74-year-old grandmother, who lived in the same building, was home when the Iranian drone attacked. When he heard about the blast, he immediately rushed home but found little left of his residence, and his grandmother, Anna, was trapped under the rubble.

Anna was successfully rescued by Ukrainian first responders. Shaken but uninjured, she was taken to the hospital for precautionary medical checks. Rescuers also pulled a shivering and concussed cat, Philya, from the wreckage. The distressed animal was wrapped in a thermal blanket before being taken to a veterinarian.

Ukrainian rescuers attend to an injured cat.
Ukrainian rescuers save a cat named Philya at a residential building hit by a drone attack in downtown Kyiv on Monday. (Oleg Petrasyuk/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

By midafternoon, Ukrainian authorities had confirmed that four people had been killed in the strikes, including a six-months-pregnant woman, Victoria, and her husband, Bogdan, both 34.

This latest assault on civilian targets came just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at a news conference on the back of a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, claimed that he saw no further need for “massive strikes” on Ukraine.

Smoke rises from several tall buildings.
Smoke rises after a Russian drone strike in Kyiv on Monday. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

About a half hour after the air raid alert ended, Kyiv’s streets returned to normal: filled with heavy traffic and pedestrians.

“We aren’t going to be terrified by Putin,” Danylo, a student at Kyiv University and a freelance photographer, told Yahoo News. “We know that any agreement that we might make with a terrorist like him would be worthless anyway.”

A fragment of a suicide drone lies on the ground.
A fragment of a suicide drone on the ground in Kyiv on Monday. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)