Russian forces used Iranian kamikaze drones to attack a city near Kyiv far from the war's frontlines, a Ukrainian military official says

This undated photograph released by the Ukrainian military's Strategic Communications Directorate shows the wreckage of what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone downed near Kupiansk, Ukraine.
This undated photograph released by the Ukrainian military's Strategic Communications Directorate shows the wreckage of what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone downed near Kupiansk, Ukraine.Ukrainian military's Strategic Communications Directorate via AP
  • A Ukrainian official said Russia used Iranian kamikaze drones to attack a city near Kyiv.

  • Oleksiy Kuleba alleged the drone was a Shahed-136, a type of loitering munition.

  • The attack near Ukraine's capital — hundreds of miles from the war's frontlines — was rare.

Russian forces used Iranian kamikaze drones to strike a city near Kyiv, a rare attack targeting hundreds of miles from the war's frontlines, a Ukrainian military official said Wednesday.

Oleksiy Kuleba, head of the Kyiv Regional Military Administration, said on Telegram that six suicide drones exploded overnight in the city of Bila Tserkva, about 50 miles south of Ukraine's capital city.

One person was injured and infrastructure was damaged, he said, adding that rescue and emergency crews were working to assess the full scope of the damage.

"I ask the residents not to ignore air warning signals and safety rules," Kuleba said.

Ukraine's General Staff of the Armed Forces shared in a separate update that the military shot down six other Iranian drones.

Kuleba identified the drones used in Wednesday's attack as a Shahed-136, which is a type of loitering munition that carries a range of nearly 1,250 miles.

Loitering munitions — small systems that can fly like regular unmanned aerial vehicles and are packed with explosives — are sometimes referred to as kamikaze or suicide drones because once they identify a target, they can soar into it, striking it and detonating.

Oleksii Krasov, a Ukrainian politician, shared a video on social media purportedly showing the drone strikes in Bila Tserkva.

Krasov said Iran has supplied Russia with a "large number" of drones. When asked by a reporter on Monday how many Iran-made drones Russia is currently using, and if the number is in the hundreds, a senior US military official responded: "No, they are not."

Ukraine's military has previously confirmed that Russian troops deployed the Iran-made Shahed-136 on the battlefield, even claiming last month that it shot one down for the first time.

The Biden Administration said back in July that Iran was preparing to send these drones to Russia. In August, Iranian Shahed and Mohajer drones arrived, only to then be bogged down by technical issues. US officials said Russia's hunt for weapons in countries like Iran was a clear sign that President Vladimir Putin's forces were struggling on the battlefield. 

Wednesday's attack in Bila Tserkva is notable, however, because the city is so far from where fighting is ongoing, and attacks near Kyiv have become increasingly rare.

Since Russian forces withdrew from the Kyiv region in the spring after failing to capture Ukraine's capital city, hostilities have mostly remained centered in eastern and southern Ukraine.

There, Ukrainian forces are in the process of staging various counteroffensives along both the eastern and southern fronts, where thousands of square miles of territory have been liberated from Russian occupation.

"Ukrainian forces continued to make deliberate progress in the Kharkiv region, and also further south around Kherson," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper told reporters on Tuesday. "The Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kherson has made significant advances over the last 24 hours, and Ukrainian forces continue to liberate villages as they press forward."

Translation by Oleksandr Vynogradov.

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