February 21, 2024

Russia Says Ukrainian Drones Struck Moscow Buildings

The Russian Defense Ministry said Ukrainian forces had fired at least three drones at Moscow on Sunday, the latest in a wave of attacks inside Russia demonstrating that few places are off limits after more than 17 months of war.

One drone was destroyed in Odintsovo, outside Moscow, the Defense Ministry said, adding that the two others struck commercial buildings in the capital after being intercepted by Russian air defenses. There were no injuries, Moscow’s mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, said in a post on Telegram. Ukraine does not comment on attacks inside Russia that could be attributed to them, seeking to maintain secrecy and the element of surprise.

Ukraine has also been accused of hitting military air bases deep inside Russia and oil facilities with drone attacks.

The attacks in Moscow, though they have become more frequent recently, have so far caused no deaths and have been far less extensive than the strikes Russian forces conduct nightly across Ukraine with missiles and drones, often hitting civilian targets. The first attacks on Moscow came in early May, with drone explosions on the Kremlin compound, an assault that U.S. officials said was most likely carried out by one of Kyiv’s special military or intelligence units. They were followed by more at the end of that month in a high-end Moscow neighborhood.

The attacks upended the assumption of people in Moscow, 800 kilometers (about 500 miles) from Ukraine, that the fighting would never touch them, and prompted criticism about President Vladimir V. Putin’s management of the war, which has taken an enormous economic toll and cost thousands of soldiers their lives.

And in July, there have now been at least three drone attacks in Moscow, some coming within blocks of striking military facilities central to the war effort. There have been no casualties, and Ukraine has continued to not comment on them.

But Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has promised “retaliation” after two weeks of nonstop bombardment of Odesa, a city on the Black Sea that is both vital to Ukraine’s economy and of great cultural and historical significance. Russian forces have appeared to target civilians; both sides have promised to step up attacks on the shipping corridor. And in a new sign in how Ukraine is expanding its campaign, it has claimed responsibility for a series of bold attacks last year and appears to have fired missiles into Russia for the first time since the start of the war.

These attacks come while Ukraine is intensifying its efforts in the south of the country as part of its counteroffensive, using freshly trained soldiers and new weapons — both provided by the U.S. and Europe — to push past Russian soldiers who have spent months building a well-fortified defense. The campaign, which has been slow, has also included more consistent strikes in Crimea, using drones and missiles to destroy weapons, ammunition and fuel supplies on the peninsula, which is crucial to Russia’s war efforts and which it illegally annexed in 2014.

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