Russia said it downed eight drones aimed at Moscow early Tuesday, the biggest attack on the capital since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine.
The Defense Ministry in Moscow blamed the assault on Ukraine, adding that air defenses shot down five of the drones while electronic jamming was used to divert three others from their intended targets. Ukraine hasn’t commented so far.
It’s the most serious incident in Moscow since two drones exploded over the Kremlin on May 3 in an attack that officials also blamed on Ukraine, which denied involvement. Russian territories close to Ukraine have come under repeated attack in recent months and the Defense Ministry in Moscow said last week that troops defeated an incursion by attackers who crossed the border into the Belgorod region.
Several residential buildings were damaged in the drone attack, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. No one was seriously injured although two people sought medical attention and residents of two buildings were evacuated, he said.
“This attack cost little but had a fairly high symbolic and psychological-moral impact,” said Pavel Luzin, a Russian military analyst who’s a visiting scholar at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts. “Its aim is to raise the barrier for what’s acceptable action to counter the Russian aggression.”
Putin doesn’t plan to address the nation following the assault on the capital, which was “obviously” carried out by Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to the Interfax news service. Air defenses worked well and at present there is no threat to the residents of Moscow and the surrounding region, Peskov said.
“This morning, residents of some districts of the Moscow region could hear the sounds of explosions — it was our air-defense system working,” Moscow Region Governor Andrey Vorobiev said in his Telegram channel. “Several drones were shot down as they approached Moscow.”
The strikes against Moscow followed another night of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, the 17th so far this month. One person was killed and seven were injured, Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv city’s military administration said on Telegram.
Air defenses shot down 29 out of 31 Iranian-made drones, mostly directed at Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said. Debris caused fires in several buildings during Russia’s third large-scale attack on the capital in the past 24 hours, according to the city’s military administration.
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The Kremlin has intensified its bombing campaign ahead of a long-awaited Ukrainian counteroffensive to retake occupied territory in the country’s south and east that Russia seized soon after the February 2022 invasion. Ukraine has accumulated billions of dollars of weapons from its US and European allies for the military assault.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said it had opened an investigation into the Moscow attacks, the state-run Tass news service reported.