Kyiv defies Putin once again as power restored after Russia's Iranian drone strikes

Ukraine has defied Putin once again by restoring power for millions across the embattled nation after strikes forced people to shelter in metro stations when Kyiv was plunged into darkness. Russia’s attack sparked a scramble to secure heating which was restored on Sunday, according to authorities in Kyiv. President Zelensky did warn that heating and water problems remain with many regions of Ukraine reporting “large-scale outages”. 

Russia has been using Iranian-supplied loitering munitions to strike at civil infrastructure in Ukraine in a move branded a “war crime” by the West.

On Monday further kamikaze drones rained down on the Ukrainian capital with authorities reporting a critical infrastructure point was hit, without giving more details.

Although the capital appeared to be the main target of the latest Russian attack, the armed forces said other places in the country were also targeted.

Kyiv’s regional governor Oleksii Kuleba said on Telegram that some infrastructure facilities were damaged across the Kyiv region, as well as private houses, and at least two people were injured.

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Ukraine’s air force said on Telegram that its personnel were able to destroy 30 of at least 35 self-exploding drones that Russia launched across the country from the eastern side of the Azov Sea on Ukraine’s southeast coast. Russia is on the other side of the sea.

The Ukrainian military has reported increasing success in shooting down incoming Russian missiles and explosive drones.

Zelensky urged the leaders of northern European nations to ramp up the supply of air defence systems to his war-torn nation.

Addressing a meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force through an interpreter via video link, the Ukrainian president said: “Russian aggression can and must fail. The task now is to make sure it happens faster. I call upon you to do everything to accelerate the defeat of the occupiers.”

He said millions were left without heat and water after Russia launched further attacks using Iranian drones last night.

Putin is set to travel Monday to Belarus for talks with its authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, who allowed Russian forces to use Belarusian territory for invading Ukraine and has close defense links with Moscow.

It was to be a rare trip to Minsk by Putin, who usually receives Lukashenko at the Kremlin.

Belarus is believed to have Soviet-era weapons stockpiles that could be useful for Moscow, while Lukashenko needs help with his country’s ailing economy.

Analysts say the Kremlin might look again for some kind of Belarusian military support for its Ukraine operations.

But the winter weather and Russia’s depleted resources mean any attack probably won’t come soon, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank in Washington.

“The capacity of the Russian military, even reinforced by elements of the Belarusian armed forces, to prepare and conduct effective large-scale mechanized offensive operations in the next few months remains questionable,” the think tank said in an assessment published Sunday.

It also concluded that “it is unlikely that Lukashenko will commit the Belarusian military [which would also have to be re-equipped] to the invasion of Ukraine”.