Russia Destroys Drones Targeting Moscow, and Blames Ukraine

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The Russian authorities said they destroyed two attack drones targeting central Moscow on Monday morning in what they called a strike by Ukrainian forces. No one was injured, they said. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

At least two nonresidential buildings were targeted about 4 a.m. local time, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin of Moscow said on his Telegram account, adding that there was no “serious damage or casualties.” The Russian Ministry of Defense said earlier that it had used electronic defenses to disable the drones.

The authorities blocked off part of Komsomolsky Prospect, an avenue that runs through one of the most upscale parts of central Moscow, after finding one of the drones there, state news media reported. One of the buildings is about a block away from the Russian National Defense Management Center, an imposing structure that is being used to conduct “centralized combat management of the Russian armed forces,” according to the Defense Ministry website.

Videos verified by The New York Times show damage in at least two locations near the Moskva River in the southern part of the city.

Russia Destroys Drones Targeting Moscow, and Blames Ukraine
The attack on the Moscow buildings closed traffic on at least two large avenues, according to state media.Reuters

Smoke was rising from the top floors of a high-rise building housing Leroy Merlin, a French home improvement chain. Other footage shows damage to several structures along Komsomolsky Prospect — which is close to the Defense Ministry — including the building of the Military University and the Central Military Band, a performance group of the Russian Armed Forces. It was not possible to determine from the visuals whether drones caused the damage.

Also on Monday, the Russian occupation authorities in Crimea, the peninsula that Russia illegally seized in 2014, said that 11 attack drones were shot down or neutralized by air defenses. An ammunition depot in the Dzhankoy district was hit, according to the top Russian-installed official in Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, although it was not immediately clear whether any damage was caused by a drone or by debris from an air-defense missile.

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said that officials “are all on the alert” because of the strikes.

“You can see that in recent days, the intensity of attempts to attack our regions with drones has increased,” Mr. Peskov said. “Therefore, measures are being taken, very intense daily around-the-clock work is being carried out.”

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, the fighting has been concentrated on the front lines in eastern Ukraine. Russia has fired missiles and drones at cities across Ukraine nearly every day while Russian cities, including Moscow, have been spared the violence of the war.

But in May, the relative safety of Moscow was shattered when the first full-scale drone attacks were launched against the capital, which is nearly 800 kilometers, or about 500 miles, from the border with Ukraine and even farther from the front lines.

Investigators at a damaged building in Moscow on Monday.Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

In early May, there were two drone explosions over the Kremlin, piercing the aura of relative safety in the Russian capital. Then on May 31, the Russian Defense Ministry said that at least eight drones had targeted the capital and surrounding region. Russia claimed to have intercepted them all, but three residential buildings were damaged after the drones were stopped. It was the first damage to civilian areas in Moscow since the start of the war.

Ukraine has maintained a policy of not commenting on any attacks inside Russia that appear to be linked to its military or its supporters, arguing that the silence allows it to maintain the element of surprise and military advantage. But on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky promised to retaliate against Russia after a week of deadly strikes on Odesa that targeted civilians, infrastructure and port facilities crucial to exporting grain.

Ukraine has started to publicly take credit for attacks in Crimea, which is far behind the front lines but an important logistical hub for Russian forces, arguing that the strikes are inside Ukrainian territory.

Shawn Paik, Jin Yu Young and Ivan Nechepurenko contributed reporting.

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