Russia launched a wave of air attacks on Ukraine early on Sunday, with air defence systems repelling all missiles and drones on their approach to Kyiv, the capital’s military officials said.
“According to preliminary information, not a single air target reached the capital,” Serhiy Popko, the head of the military administration, said on the Telegram messaging app early on Sunday.
“Air defence destroyed everything that was heading towards the city already at their distant approaches.”
Reuters could not independently verify the report.
Russia has repeatedly attacked Kyiv since May, chiefly at night, ahead of a long-expected Ukrainian counteroffensive to reclaim territory, in what Ukrainian officials say is an attempt to inflict psychological distress on civilians.
Reuters witnesses reported hearing several blasts in the Kyiv region, but not in the city, from what sounded like air defence systems hitting targets.
All of Ukraine was under air raid alerts for nearly three hours.
There were unverified Ukrainian social media reports of blasts heard in Kryvyi Rih in southern Ukraine, near the central city of Kropyvnitskyi and in the northeastern region of Sumy. There was no immediate official information about the reports.
Russian air attacks on Ukraine rose sharply in May from previous months and have continued into June. A two-year-old girl was killed and at least 22 people, including five children, injured after a missile strike late Saturday on residential housing in the town of Pidhorodne, north of Dnipro in east-central Ukraine.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a Wall Street Journal interview published on Saturday, said Ukraine is ready for its counteroffensive and warned of likely casualties.
In Saturday’s nightly video address the president urged Ukrainians: “please don’t forget to thank our warriors in person.”
A top Zelenskiy aide, Ihor Zhovkva, told the Sunday Times that Kyiv is still short of weapons and ammunition. “If you want to start a successful counteroffensive you need everything at your disposal, including artillery, armoured vehicles and tanks, so probably we don’t have enough,” he said.
Russia’s invasion was a major focus of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. China reasserted its interest in a peace process for Ukraine, with its defence minister saying it’s “best to mediate” the conflict. Li Shangfu said Beijing has “taken an objective and impartial stance” on the war, pushing back on Western claims that China is merely aligned with Russia, and met on Saturday with his Ukrainian counterpart. Indonesia put forward a peace proposal that involved freezing current troop positions that was quickly rejected by Kyiv.
The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said on Sunday that he was willing to meet a pro-Ukraine group of Russian fighters keeping two Russian soldiers captive.
The group said earlier it was willing to exchange the soldiers in exchange for a meeting with the governor.
“Most likely they killed them, as hard as it is for me to say. But if they are alive, from 5-6pm – Shebekino checkpoint. I guarantee safety,” governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. – PA and Bloomberg