Russia extended a three-day run of air strikes on Ukraine by launching 39 drones against Kyiv in the early hours of Monday as the Kremlin shows no let up in its attempt to destroy critical Ukrainian infrastructure.

All of the drones were destroyed, Ukraine’s air forces said on Monday. “Anti-aircraft missile units, fighter aircraft of the Air Force and mobile fire groups were involved in repelling the attack,” it said.

Ukraine also launched attacks on Russian targets, including a Himars missile strike that destroyed a school building being used as an army barracks, ammunition dump and weapons cache in Russian-occupied Makiivka, eastern Ukraine.

According to Russia’s Tass news agency, around 15 people were injured but unconfirmed reports, including by Russian military bloggers, said hundreds of newly mobilised Russian troops died.

Rob Lee, senior fellow at the US-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, commented on Twitter: “One of the problems with relying on mobilized soldiers is that it is more difficult to disperse them because of a lack of small unit leadership . . . But housing them next to ammunition storage is simply a leadership failure.”

Since October, Russia has carried out regular air strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure as its military ground operation has bogged down in the face of Ukrainian counteroffensives helped by western-supplied Himars missiles.

However Russia’s airborne attacks have become less frequent in their intensity as Moscow has started to run low on stocks of cruise missiles, according to military officials. Moscow has instead turned to Iran-supplied drones, which are cheaper to use but easier to shoot down.

“Russian has enough missiles left for two massive strikes on Ukraine,” Ukrainian spy chief Kyrylo Budanov said in a wide-ranging end-of-year interview on Ukrainian television. “They are reducing the number in order to [maintain] the intensity of these missile attacks.”

One western-supplied air defence system, known as NASAMs, has been central in defending the capital, according to Ukraine’s air forces. Western countries have large stocks of the Aim-120 missiles that the NASAMs use, however they each cost about $1mn, compared with the less than $20,000 cost of Iran-supplied Shahed drones.

Ukraine also reportedly launched two airborne drone attacks on Russian territory overnight.

Alexander Bogomaz, governor of Russian oblast Bryansk, said that “a Ukrainian drone” damaged a power supply facility in Klymov district, about 100km from the Ukraine border, in the early hours of January 2.

Ukrainian kamikaze drones also reportedly bombed the Baltimore military airfield in Voronezh, another 160km inside Russia, according to social media reports.

The attack, unconfirmed by Ukrainian authorities, follows the pattern of other recent cross-border drone strikes on Russian military installations.

Ukrainian officials have abstained from commenting on such strikes, such as the dramatic attack in early December on the Engels airfield near Saratov in southern Russia about 600km from the Ukraine border.

But Budanov, who leads Ukraine’s military intelligence, said in a recent interview that while he would not confirm that Ukraine was striking military air bases in Russia he did believe that these strikes were likely to “move deeper and deeper” inside the country.

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