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Kyiv fends off new wave of overnight drone attacks

Ukraine said it shot down most of the three dozen drones launched by Russia in an overnight attack mainly directed around the capital. 

The latest attack comes as Ukraine's forces are urging more Western support for their gruelling counteroffensive to gain back land in the east and south.

"We recorded the launch of 33 Shahed (drones) in the direction of Kyiv... 26 were destroyed," the Ukrainian Air Force said on Sunday. 

Earlier, officials said air defence downed 25 out of 32 drones. 

An AFP journalist in the capital heard multiple explosions - presumably from air defence - starting around 1.30am (2230 GMT).

"Drones entered the capital in groups and from different directions," Sergiy Popko, head of the Kyiv City Military Administration, wrote on Telegram.

Debris fell in several districts, damaging an apartment in a multi-storey building, as well as road surfaces and power lines, he added, saying one person was injured.

Ukrainian emergency services published photos of rescuers putting out fires in several districts.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko said a resident suffered from an "acute stress attack" and was receiving medical assistance after debris fell in the central Podil district. 

'More weapons'

Kyiv had seen drone and missile attacks on an almost nightly basis last winter and spring, as Russia pounded cities across Ukraine in a bid to wipe out Ukraine's energy infrastructure and destroy morale.

The strikes had since become less frequent, but last month the capital faced the "most powerful strike" since spring, with more than 20 drones and missiles destroyed. 

And as summer is coming to a close, Klitschko on Tuesday told journalists that the city was already preparing for a "tough" winter.

In a conference in the capital on Friday and Saturday, officials said the West should not lose any time and provide Kyiv with powerful arms to back up its army pushing Russian troops out of the territories it seized. 

Newly appointed Defence Minister Rustem Umerov called for more military equipment.

"We are grateful for all the support provided... We need more heavy weapons," Umerov said.

He added: "We need them today. We need them now."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the provision of weapons was slowing down, hampering the counteroffensive against Russian positions.

'Fake' vote

Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar acknowledged that "the enemy is strong, they have more people and weaponry."

Ukraine is leading a difficult counterassault since June, a far cry from the lightning successes of last fall.

But this time, Ukrainian forces are contending with well-entrenched Russian defences built over several months of occupation. 

Deputy Intelligence Chief Vadym Skibitsky estimated Saturday that Russia has more than 420,000 soldiers in the east and south of Ukraine, including Crimea.

The number, he said, does not include special law enforcement units "that maintain occupation authorities on our territories."

Russia last year claimed to have annexed four regions - Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson - despite never full controlling them. 

Residents of those areas were expected to cast a ballot for local administrations in votes ending Sunday, which have been widely denounced as a sham. 

Kyiv called on allies to condemn the "fake" vote.

Its SBU security service warned it has a list of "collaborators" helping organise the voting, promising punishment. 

But Kremlin-installed officials pressed on with the vote, seeking long-term office in areas Kyiv has vowed to re-capture.