MOSCOW, July 24 (Reuters) – Russia accused Kyiv of “terrorism” saying that two Ukrainian drones had damaged buildings in Moscow, including one close to the Defence Ministry’s headquarters on Monday, a day after Ukraine promised payback for Russian strikes on Odesa.
Nobody was reported hurt in the attack, but one of its targets – close to the Moscow building where the Russian military holds briefings on what it calls its “special military operation” – struck a symbolic blow and underscored the reach of such drones.
Roads nearby were temporarily closed, windows on the top two floors of an office building struck by the second drone in another Moscow district were blown out, and debris was scattered on the ground, a Reuters reporter who saw the aftermath of the incident said.
“I was asleep and was woken up by a blast, everything started shaking,” Polina, a young woman who lives near the high-rise building, told Reuters.
The attack, though not serious in terms of its human cost or damage, was the most high-profile of its kind since two drones reached the Kremlin in May.
A swarm of 17 drones also launched attacks overnight in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, the Russian Defence Ministry said, adding it had used anti-drone equipment and air defences to bring them down.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who rarely comments on attacks inside Russia or on Russian-controlled territory, had on Sunday promised what he called “a retaliation to Russian terrorists for Odesa.”
That was a reference to days of Russian missile strikes against targets in the port city which Moscow says are payback for a Ukrainian attack last week on the Crimean Bridge.
[1/5]A member of the security services investigates the damaged building following a reported drone attack in Moscow, Russia, July 24, 2023. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
‘ACT OF TERRORISM’
“Today at night drones attacked the capital of ‘the orcs’ and Crimea,” said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, using a derogatory term some Ukrainians use for Russians. “Electronic warfare and air defence are already less able to defend the skies of the occupiers.”
Writing on the Telegram messaging app, Fedorov, one of the officials spearheading Ukrainian efforts to create an ‘army of drones’, added: “No matter what happens there will be more of this.”
Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had used radio-electronic equipment to take out the two Ukrainian drones, forcing them to crash, thereby foiling what it called an attempted “terrorist attack.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the RTVI TV channel Ukraine was guilty of what she called “an act of international terrorism.”
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on his Telegram messaging app that two non-residential buildings were struck at around 4 a.m. (0100 GMT), adding there was no serious damage or casualties.
Citing emergency services, Russian state news agencies reported that drone fragments had been found near a building on Komsomolsky Avenue, which runs through Moscow. The site is about 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) from the defence ministry’s buildings.
Traffic was temporarily closed on the street as well as on Likhachev Avenue, where a high-rise office building had been damaged, Russian news agencies reported.
Reporting by Andrew Osborn in Moscow ; Additional reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and David Holmes
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