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Russia said it has thwarted a massive wave of drone attacks on occupied Crimea and a missile strike on Kaluga as Ukraine’s military reported deadly air and drone strikes on its regions.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on August 25 in a statement that its air defense neutralized 42 drones, nine of which were allegedly shot down while the other 33 were “suppressed by electronic means and crashed without reaching their target.”

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The Moscow-appointed head of Sevastopol region in Crimea, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said several drones had been destroyed over the sea off Crimea’s Cape Khersones.

The Russian ministry also said a Ukrainian missile was downed in Kaluga, a region just southwest of Moscow, while Russian Telegram channels reported blasts in the sky above the Kaluga, Tula, and Moscow regions, likely caused by antiaircraft fire.

Telegram channel Baza reported that the missile was shot down near the Shaikovka military airfield in Kaluga region, some 300 kilometers southwest of Moscow.

Two major Moscow airports, Vnukovo and Domodedovo, temporarily ceased operations, Russian TASS news agency reported.

There we no immediate reports of casualties or damages.

Moscow and its surrounding have been targeted frequently by drone attacks in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military reported Russian air and missile attacks on Ukraine overnight, adding that there were casualties among civilians.

“During the past 24 hours, the enemy launched seven missile and 47 air strikes…on the positions of our troops and on populated areas,” the military said in its daily report, adding, “Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded among the civilian population.”

The military did not provide further details about the targets of the Russian strikes or the victims, saying that incoming information is “currently being clarified.”

Ukraine’s air defense separately reported that it had shot down four Russian cruise missiles above the Odesa region that had been launched from the Sea of Azov.

The latest wave of air strikes came a day after Russia launched a missile attack on the southern city of Dnipro, wounding seven people, as Ukraine marked its Independence Day.

On the battlefields in eastern Ukraine, heavy fighting continued amid a seesaw of offensive and defensive actions by both sides.

Ukrainian forces are conducting offensive operations in the direction of the strategic southern city of Melitopol while in the Kupyansk sector of the eastern Kharkiv region Kyiv’s troops have been repelling successive Russian attempts to break the front line and advance to the west.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said late on August 24 that defenders “heroically stopped the enemy” and thwarted its attempts at storming Ukrainian positions.

Malyar said the situation along the whole eastern front is “tense and very dynamic.”

The claims could not immediately be verified.

Separately, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said late on August 24 that he had spoken by phone with U.S. President Joe Biden and thanked him for his Independence Day greetings.

“The U.S. took the lead in rallying global support for Ukraine. This crucial leadership enabled our struggle and bent the arc of history toward good,” Zelenskiy wrote on Telegram.

The United States said it will begin training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 warplanes in October, joining a Western coalition that is helping to prepare Kyiv’s fliers on the sophisticated combat aircraft to join the fight against the Russian invasion.

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder on August 24 said the program would begin in the state of Arizona following completion of English-language training sessions for Ukrainian pilots.

“These pilots will be conducting English-language training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, in September prior to attending F-16 flying training in Arizona,” Ryder said without specifying the number of pilots.

The U.S. announcement came after reports out of the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway that those NATO nations would be sending a number of F-16 jets to Ukraine.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AP


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