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Russia and Ukraine launched over a dozen drones at each other’s territory for a second straight day Sunday, one of which apparently targeted a Russian military airport while a Ukrainian civilian was killed after drone debris slammed into his house near the Black Sea.
At least 35 Ukrainian drones were shot down overnight over three regions in southwestern Russia, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a post on the messaging app Telegram.
A Russian air base hosting bomber aircraft used in Ukraine was among the targets, according to a Russian Telegram channel critical of the Kremlin. The channel posted short videos of drones flying over low-rise housing in what it claimed was the Russian town of Morozovsk, whose air base is home to Russia’s 559th Bomber Aviation Regiment.
Vasily Golubev, the governor of Russia’s Rostov province, separately reported “mass drone strikes” near Morozovsk and another town farther west, but did not mention the air base. Golubev said most the drones were shot down and and there were no casualties. He did not comment on damage.
Also Sunday morning, Ukraine’s air force said it shot down 20 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched overnight by Russian troops in southern and western Ukraine, as well as one X-59 cruise missile launched from the country’s occupied south.
A civilian was killed overnight near Odesa, a key port on Ukraine’s southern Black Sea coast, after the remnants of a destroyed drone fell on his house, Ukraine’s military said.
Stepped-up drone attacks over the past month come as both sides are keen to show they aren’t deadlocked as the war approaches the two-year mark. Russia’s Defense Ministry on Friday evening said its anti-aircraft units destroyed 32 Ukrainian drones over the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Ukraine’s air force on Saturday said it had shot down 30 out of 31 drones launched by Russia against 11 Ukrainian regions the previous night.
Neither side has gained much ground despite a Ukrainian counteroffensive that began in June.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, meanwhile, welcomed what he called a sea change in Germany’s approach toward Kyiv’s EU membership bid.
In an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper, Dmytro Kuleba said that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has won “sincere and well-deserved admiration” among Ukrainians for his role in the EU’s recent decision to open membership talks for Kyiv.
Ukraine has long faced strong opposition in its attempts to join the 27-member bloc from Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has repeatedly spoken of his desire to maintain close ties with Russia.
Scholz said that at an EU summit last week he proposed that Orban leave the room to enable the summit to launch accession talks with Ukraine, something the Hungarian leader agreed to do.
“What German Chancellor Olaf Scholz did at the summit to remove the threatened Hungarian veto will go down in history as an act of German leadership in the interests of Europe. The chancellor has this week won a lot of sincere and well-deserved admiration in the hearts of Ukrainians,” Kuleba told Bild.
He also voiced hope that Scholz’ actions would mark a “broader and irreversible shift” in Berlin’s approach towards EU negotiations with Kyiv.
“When I campaigned in Berlin last May to grant Ukraine EU candidate status, my appeals to Germany to take the lead in this process mostly fell on deaf ears. ‘Germany doesn’t want to lead,’ experts and politicians in Berlin told me. I am glad that German political decisions have changed since then,” Kuleba said.
Associated Press writer Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Poland, contributed to this report.