Russia targets Kharkiv, Odesa in biggest drone attack of month

KHARKIV, Ukraine — Russia attacked the northeastern city of Kharkiv and the Odesa region close to Ukraine’s border with Romania overnight with at least 31 drones, the largest UAV strike so far in February.

The drones targeted port infrastructure in the border region as well as civilian targets, according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry and local governors.

Russia has kept up attacks all winter with hundreds of drones and missiles targeting regions across Ukraine since late December, as the invasion of its neighbor nears the two-year mark with no clear end in sight.

Shahed drones hit a fuel filling station in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, causing a fire in which seven people died and 15 private homes were destroyed or damaged, mayor Ihor Terekhov and regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said on Telegram.

The casualties from the fire included a family with three children aged between 6 months and 7 years who were killed in their home. Three people were injured.

The Odesa region came under three waves of drone attacks, injuring four people, governor Oleh Kiper said on Telegram. Nine UAVs were downed but debris fell on a technical building which is a part of Odesa’s port infrastructure.

Later in the night, drones targeted port infrastructure on the Danube River, which forms part of the border between Ukraine and Romania. Industrial and service facilities, roads, trucks and passenger cars as well as private homes were damaged in Izmail, a large port in Ukraine’s Danube delta region.

Ukraine’s Air Force intercepted 12 drones in the area and total 23 drones were downed in the Odesa and Kharkiv regions in total.

Romania scrambled an F-16 jet of the Turkish Air Force stationed at an air base close to the border for air reconnaissance missions in response to the latest drone attacks. No debris or unauthorized entry of Romanian airspace were reported, the defense ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Poland earlier this week activated aircraft when Russian cruise missiles were fired in the direction of Ukraine’s western border and hit a facility about 43 miles away from Polish territory.

Russian forces continue pressing on the battlefield in Ukraine’s east, making small advances in areas such as Avdiivka, where 21 Russian attacks were repelled in the past 24 hours, the General Staff said on Facebook.