KYIV, Ukraine — A day after Russia accused Ukraine of targeting the Kremlin in a drone attack, Ukrainian air defense systems targeted drones and missiles over Kyiv and other cities on Thursday.
Explosions rang out before daybreak Thursday over the Black Sea port city of Odesa and in Kyiv, where a regional official said air defenses had shot down Russian drones and ballistic missiles. The Ukrainian military’s southern command in Odesa provided images of downed drones that suggested some bore handwritten messages including “For Moscow” and “For the Kremlin.”
As night fell on Thursday, loud explosions echoed over Kyiv again — the fourth night in less than a week — but a drone that was initially identified as Russian was later described by the Ukrainian military as one of its own that had gone out of control.
Ukraine’s Air Force said in a statement that pilots had lost control of a Bayraktar TB2 drone and “the decision was taken to engage one of the mobile fire groups” in the capital to shoot it down. “It’s unfortunate, but this is technology and such things happen,” the Air Force said.
No injuries were immediately reported, but local officials reported that falling debris had sparked a fire.
There has been a heightened sense of watchfulness in Kyiv since Wednesday, when Russia accused Ukraine of being responsible for two explosions above the Kremlin. Russian officials said two drones had been taken out over the sprawling fortress, foiling an attack aimed at President Vladimir V. Putin. Ukrainian officials flatly denied any role.
Even so, officials are taking Moscow’s threats of escalation seriously. “Of course, the efforts to cover the skies over Kyiv will only increase,” Fedir Venislavsky, a member of the parliamentary committee on national security, said on Radio Liberty.
There were no reports of casualties in the predawn attacks on Kyiv and Odesa on Thursday. But in the southern region of Kherson, officials raised the death toll from Russian shelling on Wednesday to 23 people, making it one of the deadliest barrages in Ukraine this year.
The United States and Ukraine said they feared that Russia would seek to intensify attacks after the explosions over the Kremlin on Wednesday, which were apparently caused by drones. Ukraine, which typically maintains deliberate ambiguity over responsibility for attacks inside Russia, categorically denied involvement and accused Moscow of manufacturing the incident as a pretext for further aggression and to stir up public support.
It remained unclear who was responsible for the explosions, which occurred 15 minutes apart. The United States Embassy in Kyiv issued a warning late Wednesday that there was a heightened risk of Russian missile attacks, including in the Ukrainian capital and surrounding area, citing “the recent uptick in strikes across Ukraine and inflammatory rhetoric from Moscow.”
Early on Thursday in Kyiv, three loud booms rattled windows about 2:30 a.m. local time and the police cordoned off what appeared to be debris from a missile or drone shot out of the sky over a central neighborhood. Some nearby windows were shattered, and the smell of smoke hung in the air.
Russia attacked Odesa with at least 15 drones, Ukraine’s southern military command said. The Ukrainians shot down 12, but three got through the air defense network and crashed into dorms for an educational institution. There were no reports of casualties, the Ukrainian military said.
In towns and cities closer to the sprawling front line in eastern and southern Ukraine, there were also reports of widespread bombardments. The damage was being assessed early Thursday morning.