Drone attacks on Moscow could have come from Ukrainian special forces inside Russia. Authorities in Russia accused Ukraine of launching the attacks on Monday during which one aircraft fell near the Defence Ministry’s main headquarters.
It came as the Russian military unleashed new strikes on port infrastructure in southern Ukraine.
Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin said there were no casualties when the drones struck two non-residential buildings. Russia’s Defence Ministry claimed the military had jammed both attacking drones, forcing them to crash.
Russian media reported one of the drones fell on the Komsomolsky highway near the centre of of the city, shattering shop windows and damaging the roof of a house about 200 metres away from the Defence Ministry building.
The ministry’s main headquarters has Pantsyr air defence systems placed on the roof.
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It wasn’t immediately clear whether the drone targeted the Defence Ministry’s headquarters, which is 1.7 miles away from the Kremlin, or was heading to some other target in central Moscow.
Another drone hit an office building in the south of the Russian capital, gutting a number upper floors.
Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for the attack, which is the second drone strike on the Russian capital this month.
Sky’s Moscow correspondent, Diana Magnay, said the attack was “pretty significant” and marked the third time drones have caused damage in Moscow.
She said: “They were shot down by electronic warfare, says the Ministry of Defence, but they’ve still managed to damage in the centre of Moscow. That’s fairly significant, and an indicator of how targeted some of these drones can be.
“We of course don’t know if they came from the Ukrainian border or if they’ve been set up from within Russia itself by partisan activity or by Ukrainian special forces within Russia.
“But this is the second time – the third, if you include drones hitting the Kremlin in the last couple of months – that we’ve seen drone strikes successfully hit targets in central Moscow. Of course, Ukraine haven’t said anything about it, but Russia blames Ukraine.”
In a potential blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainska Pravda said the drone attack on Moscow was a special operation by Ukrainian military intelligence.
It reported: “The night attack of drones on July 24 on the Russian capital was a special operation of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.”
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Monday’s attack comes after the Russian military said on July 4 four of five drones were downed by air defences on the outskirts of Moscow with the fifth jammed by electronic warfare means and forced down.
The raid led officials to temporarily restrict flights at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport and divert flights to two other airports serving the city.
Russian authorities said a separate Ukrainian drone attack early on Monday struck an ammunition depot in northern Crimea and forced a halt in traffic on a major highway and railway line crossing the Black Sea peninsula. Railway traffic was restored several hours later.
The Moscow-appointed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, said authorities also ordered the evacuation of several villages within a three-mile radius of the depot that was hit.
Mr Aksyonov said the military shot down or jammed 11 attacking drones, while the Defence Ministry claimed later that 11 of the 17 attacking drones were jammed and crashed into the Black Sea with another three shot down.
Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s digital transformation minister, noted on his messaging app channel that Monday’s drone attacks on Moscow and Crimea showed Russia’s electronic warfare means and air defences are “less and less able to protect the skies of the invaders”, adding “there will be more of it”.
On Saturday (July 22), a previous drone attack on Crimea hit another ammunition depot, sending huge plumes of black smoke skyward and also forcing the evacuation of residents.
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