KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced a wave of Russian drone attacks and strongly urged the country’s allies to provide it with air defense weapons.
“To guarantee the protection of our skies and reduce the possibilities for Russian terrorists to zero, we need much more air defense systems and more missiles for those systems,” he said in a televised address to the nation late Monday. “This is not only in Ukraine’s interests. The less opportunities for terror Russia has, the sooner this war ends.”
Explosives-laden suicide drones have struck Ukraine’s capital, setting buildings ablaze and tearing a hole in one of them. Authorities said four people died.
“Russia doesn’t have any chance on the battlefield, and it tries to compensate for its military defeats with terror,” Zelesnkyy said. “Why this terror? To put pressure on us, on Europe, on the entire world.”
— Waves of suicide drones strike Ukraine’s capital
— Ukrainian resilience persists amid Russian barrages
— NATO begins nuclear exercises amid Russia’s war
— EU set to greenlight Ukraine training mission
MOSCOW — Russia and Ukraine also completed a prisoner swap Monday, according to Denis Pushilin, head of Ukraine’s breakaway region of Donetsk that was annexed illegally by Russia.
Denis Pushilin said Monday that each side was supposed to release 110 prisoners but his side handed over only 108 Ukrainian prisoners — all women — because two said they wanted to stay in Russia. He said Ukraine released 110 prisoners.
The Russian Defense Ministry said those 110 Russian citizens included 72 seamen from commercial vessels who had been held since February. It said the Russian side handed over 108 Ukrainian servicewomen.
The head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, posted photos and a video of a large group of women on Telegram on Monday, saying it was “the first all-female exchange” for Ukraine. According to Yermak, servicewomen and civilians were among those released; some of them had been captured by Russian-backed separatists in the east of Ukraine long before Russia’s full-scale invasion in February.
“Now all the girls will undergo a medical examination and rehabilitation. They will hug their relatives, their children, recover,” Yermak wrote, adding: “Ukraine will not leave anyone behind.”
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomat says the bloc is gathering evidence about Iran’s alleged sale of drones to Russia and will respond if the allegations prove true.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday, “We are following very closely this use of drones. We are gathering evidence and we will be ready to react with the tools at our disposal.”
Borrell spoke after chairing a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, where the bloc decided to slap sanctions on Iranian officials deemed responsible for the crackdown on anti-government protesters.
Borrell says that Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba denounced the use of drones in a speech to the ministers via video-link from a bomb shelter. Borrell did not say what kind of measures the EU would consider.
KYIV, Ukraine — A top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is blaming Iran for the death of Ukrainians in Russian drone strikes.
Mikhailo Podolyak also warned that sanctions may not be enough to deter Tehran from supplying Moscow’s forces with the deadly suicide drones that killed at least four civilians in Kyiv on Monday.
“A country that oppresses its own people is now giving (Russian) monsters weapons for mass murders in the heart of Europe,” Mikhailo Podolyak tweeted.
He said there could be no “concessions to totalitarianism.”
Podolyak also called for the Group of 20 leading rich and developing nations to expel Russia from the organization.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s foreign minister wants the European Union to sanction Iran for providing Russia with the suicide drones that killed at least four civilians in Kyiv on Monday.
The Iranian-made drones have been used elsewhere in Ukraine in recent weeks against urban centers and infrastructure, including power stations.
They are comparatively cheap, costing in the region of $20,000. Their use in swarms presents a challenge to Ukrainian air defenses.
Dmytro Kuleba said on his social media accounts that the next EU sanctions package on Russia “must be strong” and again requested more air defense systems and ammunition for Ukraine.
Speaking in a video statement posted on Facebook, Kuleba said he became the first minister to participate in Monday’s call with the EU foreign ministers from a bomb shelter.
He said he told his EU colleagues that the attacks on Ukraine’s energy facilities amounted to a blow to European energy security, as they derailed Ukrainian energy exports to the EU.
BRUSSELS — The European Union has approved a military training program in Europe for thousands of Ukrainian troops.
The 27-nation bloc also gave the go-ahead Monday to another 500 million euros ($486 million) in funds to help supply weapons and other military support to Ukraine.
The aim is to train almost 15,000 Ukrainian troops, chiefly in Poland and Germany.
It’s hoped the mission, which will initially run for two years, can begin in mid-November.
The new tranche of money brings to just over 3 billion euros ($2.9 billion) the total EU sum in security support available for Ukraine.
TALLINN, Estonia — Belarus is to host a total of 9,000 Russian troops and 170 tanks as part of a new joint Russian-Belarusian military force.
That’s according to Belarusian defense ministry officials Monday.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced the formation of the new force last week. He said it was being created in response to Ukraine plotting an attack on its ex-Soviet neighbor in the north. Lukashenko didn’t provide any evidence to back up his claim.
Moscow has used Belarus as a staging ground for its full-scale invasion and regular rocket attacks, but Belarusian troops have not been directly involved in Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.
Lukashenko’s statements stoked fears that the joint force would attack Ukraine from the north, aiming to disrupt corridors used to transport Western-supplied weapons across the country.
Belarusian military officials, however, insisted that the force was being created for defensive purposes only.
As Russian soldiers were deploying in Belarus, Belarusian authorities arrested at least four activists they accused of plotting terrorist attacks to sabotage the operation.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s capital is reeling from a Russian barrage of suicide drones packed with explosives, which killed at least three people.
The blasts set fire to Kyiv buildings and sent people scurrying to air raid shelters. Some tried to shoot down the kamikazes.
One of the drones slammed into a residential building, killing three people, according to the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
Energy facilities were also targeted as Moscow tries to disrupt Ukraine’s heating supply as winter approaches.
The Russian military said they used “long-range air and sea-based high precision weapons” to strike Ukraine’s military and energy facilities.
The attack came a week after Russia unleashed its most widespread strikes against the country in months and as Moscow struggles to halt a Ukrainian battlefield counteroffensive.
Kyiv’s daily life soon resumed in a city that has become grimly accustomed to attacks.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian nuclear energy company Energoatom says external power to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was once again cut off due to shelling by Russian forces.
The attack Monday struck a power substation on Ukrainian territory that supplies power to the plant, Energoatom said.
The plant is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. While it six reactors have been shut down due to the fighting, it needs power supply to ensure critical safety systems remain operational.
Those power supplies have been repeatedly taken offline, forcing the plant’s operator to temporarily use diesel generators to power the safety systems.
Energoatom repeated its call for a demilitarization of the plant and the withdrawal of Russian forces that surround it.