- Ukraine says it shot down all drones
- Russia tries to seize Bakhmut in the east by May 9, VE Day
- Ukraine marks the defeat of the Nazis in 1945 on May 8 in a break with Moscow
May 8 (Reuters) – Russia launched its largest drone swarm in months against Ukraine on Monday, on the eve of a May 9 Russian holiday celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, striking the capital Kiev and the city of Odessa on the Black Sea and bombarding other cities.
The mayor of Kyiv said Russia fired 60 Iranian-made suicide drones at Ukrainian targets, including 36 at his city, all of which were shot down. Debris hit apartments and other buildings, injuring at least five people.
A food warehouse was set on fire by a missile in Odessa, where officials said three people were injured.
It was the largest drone swarm to date in a new Russian air campaign launched 10 days ago after a lull since early March.
Ukrainian leader Zelenskiy celebrated Victory Day on May 8 rather than May 9, changing the date of the holiday to match the practice of Western allies.
“May our victory over the current evil of Rashism be the best way to honor the memory of those who fought and defeated Nazism,” Zelenskiy said in his Monday night video address, using a term commonly used in Ukraine for designate “Russian fascism”. “
Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 saying it wanted to “denazify” its neighbor to protect Russia. Ukraine and its Western allies say the Moscow war is an imperial-style land grab.
Ukraine says Moscow is making a last-ditch effort to capture the crumbling eastern town of Bakhmut to deliver President Vladimir Putin what would be his only price for a costly Russian winter offensive, in time for the May 9 holiday. .
Bakhmut has been under Russian attack for more than nine months, with Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group carrying out repeated attempts to advance on what was once a town of 70,000.
The group’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said in a social media post on Monday that his troops were beginning to receive the ammunition needed to accelerate their advance. Troops had advanced a maximum of 130 meters (400 feet) amid fierce fighting, Prigozhin said.
In its daily statement on the military action of the past 24 hours, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that there had been heavy fighting in Bakhmut and the surrounding area.
More than 20 towns and villages were shelled in the central Zaporizhzhia region, the statement said. The southern city of Kherson and at least seven other centers in that region were also bombed – on the western bank of the Dnipro river abandoned by Russian forces in November.
Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield accounts.
VE DAY PARADE AT THE RALLYE DES RUSSES
Moscow is preparing for Tuesday’s Victory Day parade, the most important day on Russia’s calendar under Putin, who wants to rally Russians behind the war in Ukraine.
The surrender of the German army in 1945 took effect late on the night of May 8 in Berlin, when it was already May 9 in Moscow, a date which has become the Soviet holiday.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that by changing the date, Zelenskiy betrayed the memory of Ukrainians who fought against the Nazis.
“What’s worse than an enemy? A traitor. That’s Zelenskiy, the 21st century embodiment of Judas,” she said.
Ukraine, then part of the then Soviet Union, suffered higher per capita losses than Russia during World War II and was home to a large Jewish population that was wiped out in the Holocaust.
On the day of the Russian parade, Zelenskiy will underline Ukraine’s ambition to join the West by receiving European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, whose visit to the war zone the EU took the decision unusual to announce in advance.
Brussels marks May 9 as “Europe Day”, honoring a 1950 French declaration that led to the founding of the body that became the EU.
Russia has canceled or reduced some of the huge military parades that normally accompany VE Day. Western countries say this is partly due to security concerns, as well as reluctance to publicize Russia’s heavy losses in Ukraine and because Moscow lost so much military hardware in its largely winter offensive. fruitless and overwhelming.
Ukraine, which pushed back Russian forces from the capital last year and reclaimed the territory, has maintained a defensive posture for the past six months but said a counteroffensive would begin soon.
The Russian-appointed governor of the Zaporizhzhia region, Yevgeny Balitsky, said around 3,000 civilians had been evacuated from areas close to the front line that had been shelled in Zaporizhzhia, one of the areas where Ukraine could launch its counter-offensive.
Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Christian Schmollinger
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