U.S. Warns Russia on War Crimes After Iran-Made Drone Bombs Sow Terror in Ukraine

Police officers shoot at a drone during a Russian drone strike, which local authorities consider to be Iranian-made Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), in Kyiv, Ukraine Monday. (REUTERS/Vadim Sarakhan)

(AP/Reuters) – The United States warned Monday that it would hold Russia accountable for war crimes after waves of explosives-laden suicide drones struck Ukraine’s capital, setting buildings ablaze, tearing a hole in one of them and sending people scurrying for cover or trying to shoot them down.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that the U.S. “strongly condemns Russia’s missile strikes” and said the attack “continues to demonstrate Putin’s brutality.”

Mentioning a $725 million military aid package announced for Ukraine last Friday, Jean-Pierre said Washington would stand with the people of Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”

“We will continue to impose costs on Russia, hold them accountable for its war crimes,” she said.

Monday’s concentrated use of the kamikaze drones was the second barrage in as many weeks – after months in which air attacks had become a rarity in central Kyiv. The assault sowed fear and frayed nerves as blasts rocked the city. Energy facilities were struck and one drone largely collapsed a residential building, killing four people, authorities said.

Intense bursts of gunfire rang out as the Iranian-made Shahed drones buzzed overhead, apparently as soldiers tried to destroy them. Others headed for shelter, nervously scanning the skies. But Ukraine has become grimly accustomed to attacks nearly eight months into the Russian invasion, and city life resumed as rescuers picked through debris.

Previous Russian airstrikes on Kyiv were mostly with missiles. Analysts believe the slower-moving Shahed drones can be programmed to accurately hit certain targets using GPS unless the system fails.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the barrage came in successive waves of 28 drones —   in what many fear could become a more common mode of attack as Russia seeks to avoid depleting its stockpiles of long-range precision missiles.

Five drones plunged into Kyiv itself, said Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. At least 13 were shot down in the Kyiv region, all flying in from the south, said Yurii Ihnat, a spokesman for Ukraine’s air force.

Iran has previously denied providing Russia with weapons, although its Revolutionary Guard chief has boasted of providing arms to the world’s top powers, without elaborating.

On Tuesday, the Kremlin said it had no information about whether or not Iranian kamikaze drones were used in large-scale attacks against Ukraine earlier this week.

Asked if Russia did use the Iranian drones in the attack on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin did not have any information about their use.

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