MOSCOW-Russia said Tuesday it had downed another wave of Ukrainian drones aimed at vessels in the Black Sea and Moscow, as an office block in the capital’s main business district was struck for the second time in a few days. “Two Ukrainian (unmanned aerial vehicles) were destroyed by air defence systems over the territory of the Odintsovo and Narofominsk districts of Moscow region,” the Russian defence ministry said.
“Another drone was suppressed by electronic warfare and, having lost control, crashed on the territory of the Moscow City,” the capital’s main commercial district, the ministry said. On Sunday, Russian defences downed drones in that same district, with debris damaging two office towers, blowing out several windows and scattering documents on the pavement below.
“One flew into the same tower in (Moscow) City as last time,” mayor Sergei Sobyanin said Tuesday on Telegram.
“The facade on the 21st floor was damaged,” and a number of windows were smashed, the mayor said.
He added that emergency services had gone to the scene and that there was no information on any casualties. “We heard a big explosion, there was no panic,” local resident Arkady Metler, 29, told AFP.
“Nobody should be scared... we cannot do anything but stick together,” said Metler.
Other residents were more shaken by the renewed explosion in their neighbourhood.
“After the last attack, everyone was saying, ‘They don’t hit the same place twice’. But when we woke up this morning we were in shock,” Anastasia Berseneva, 26, told AFP.
“I’m not sure whether I will move out or not but I’m thinking probably yes.” Shortly after the drone attack, Moscow’s Vnukovo international airport was briefly closed, TASS state news agency reported. “Vnukovo was temporarily closed for arrivals and departures, the planes are redirected to other airports,” emergency services said, according to TASS, which later reported that it had resumed normal operations.
The same airport, to the southwest of Moscow, was briefly closed after Sunday’s attack and earlier this month, a volley of drone attacks disrupted air traffic at Vnukovo. Moscow and its environs, located about 500 kilometres (310 miles) from the Ukrainian border, had rarely been targeted during the conflict in Ukraine until several drone attacks this year. The Russian defence ministry said Tuesday it also foiled a Ukrainian drone attack targeting patrol boats in the Black Sea.
“During the night, Ukrainian armed forces tried without success to attack with three drones the ‘Sergei Kotov’ and ‘Vasily Bykov,’ patrol boats of the Russian fleet,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
The three drones were trained on the ships, navigating in waters 340 kilometres (210 miles) southwest of Sevastopol, the base of Russia’s Black Sea fleet on the annexed Crimea peninsula. Tuesday’s attacks were the latest in a series of drone assaults -- including on the Kremlin and Russian towns near the border with Ukraine -- that Moscow has blamed on Kyiv. On Monday, a missile strike on a residential building killed six and wounded dozens in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown of Kryvyi Rig. Without mentioning a particular attack, Zelensky warned Sunday that the conflict was coming to Russia. “Gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia -- to its symbolic centres and military bases, and this is an inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process,” Zelensky said Sunday.