Russia’s Defence Ministry said it had brought down three Ukrainian drones early on Sunday that had tried to strike Moscow in the second such attack in a week, which damaged a high rise building reported to house government offices.
Nobody was hurt and there was only minor damage to the facade of two office buildings in the Moskva-Citi business district, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.
The area, several miles from the Kremlin, is known for its modern high-rise towers. One of the buildings damaged was home to three Russian government ministries as well as residential apartments, Russian media reported.
That hostile drones have reached the heart of the Russian capital in recent months, even if they have so far caused no major damage, is uncomfortable for the authorities who have told the public that Russia is in full control of what they call its “special military operation” against Ukraine.
Two drones reached the Kremlin in May in the most high-profile incident of its kind. Last Monday, Russia said it thwarted an attack on Moscow with two drones, one of which was brought down close to the headquarters of the defence ministry.
Kyiv typically does not claim responsibility for specific incidents on Russian territory, and did not claim the latest attack, though President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the war was “gradually returning to Russia’s territory - to its symbolic centres”.
“And this is an inevitable, natural, and absolutely fair process,” Zelenskiy said in his daily address to the nation.
Smoke and broken glass
In Moscow, a young woman who gave her name as Liya told Reuters she was in an apartment she had rented with some friends at the moment of Sunday’s strike.
“At some point, we heard an explosion and it was like a wave, everyone jumped,” she said. “And then there was a lot of smoke and you couldn’t see anything. From above, you could see fire.”
Reuters saw glass panels blown out in one high-rise building and glass, debris and office documents littering part of the pavement below. The area had been cordoned off by police and emergency services.
Flights to and from Moscow’s Vnukovo airport were briefly suspended due to the incident, the TASS news agency reported.
The Defence Ministry said two drones had crashed in the Moskva-Citi district after being brought down using radio-electronic equipment. Air defences had shot down one more in the air over the Odintsovo area in the Moscow region, it said.
“On the morning of 30th July, an attempted terrorist attack by the Kyiv regime using unmanned aerial vehicles against targets in the city of Moscow was foiled,” the ministry said in its statement.
Separately, it said it had also successfully thwarted an overnight attack on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, by 25 Ukrainian drones which it said it had either shot down or forced to crash. Nobody had been hurt and no damage was caused in the Crimea episode, it said.