Ukraine shoots down Russian drones as hopes rise for fresh US military aid

Kremlin silent on Crimea airbase blasts but dismisses impact of western arms

Ukraine said it shot down all 13 explosive drones launched by Russia in its latest attack on its neighbour’s infrastructure, as hopes rose in Kyiv for the resumption of US military aid and Moscow said any such supplies would have no impact on the battlefield.

Foreign ministers from G7 states joined Kyiv in welcoming plans for a vote in the US House of Representatives this weekend on $60 billion (€56 billion) in new support for Ukraine, as the embattled country reiterated its urgent need for more air defence systems.

Ukrainian officials said “critical infrastructure” in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region was the major target of a Russian drone attack in the early hours of Thursday.

All 13 of the Iranian-made Shahed drones fired by Russia were shot down, a day after three ballistic missiles hit the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv. The death toll from that strike rose to 18 on Thursday, and 78 people were confirmed to have been wounded.


Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal expressed “careful optimism” that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would this weekend finally lift its months-long block on a White House request for new military aid for Kyiv.

“We need this money yesterday, not tomorrow, not today,” Shmyhal told the BBC in Washington, warning that a Ukrainian defeat in its war with Russia would mean “the global system of security will be destroyed”.

As result, he said there would be “many conflicts ... and in the end of the day, it could lead to the third World War”.

Kyiv’s minister for foreign affairs Dmytro Kuleba met US secretary of state Antony Blinken on the sidelines of a G7 meeting in Italy, and said they discussed “our joint global efforts to get more Patriot air defence systems and missiles to Ukraine” and “emphasised the urgent need for the US Congress to pass the supplemental aid package for Ukraine”.

Arriving at the G7 meeting, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell noted recent destructive Russian missile and drone strikes on Ukraine’s power grid and urged western states and allies around the world to do more to bolster the country’s defences.

“In the following days, concrete decisions have to be taken in order to send to Ukraine more air defence. Otherwise, the electricity system in Ukraine will be destroyed. And no country can fight without having electricity – at home, in the factories, on the frontline, for everything,” Borrell said.

Russia’s invasion force is pushing slowly westward from the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, which it seized last May and this February, respectively.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the battlefield situation was “far from favourable for the Ukrainian side” and that US military aid “cannot change anything”.

Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence agency said a missile strike on the Dzhankoi airbase in occupied Crimea destroyed or severely damaged four Russian S-400 missile launchers, a control station, three radars and airspace monitoring equipment. Moscow had not commented on heavy explosions at the base early on Wednesday.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe