Russia says drones damage Moscow buildings in pre-dawn attack, blames Ukraine
May 30, 2023, 6:02 AM
(AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A rare drone attack jolted Moscow Tuesday morning, lightly damaging some buildings and leading to the evacuation of others, while Russia pursued its relentless bombardment of Kyiv with a third assault on the city in 24 hours.
The Russian defense ministry said five drones were shot down and the systems of three others were jammed, causing them to veer off course. It called the incident a “terrorist attack” by the “Kyiv regime.”
The attack brought the war to civilians at home in Russia’s capital for the first time. It caused “insignificant damage” to several buildings, according to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. Two people received medical attention for unspecified injuries but did not need hospitalization, he said in a Telegram post. Residents of two high-rise buildings damaged in the attack were evacuated, Sobyanin said.
Andrei Vorobyov, governor of the wider Moscow region, said some of the drones were “shot down on the approach to Moscow.”
Ukraine made no direct comment on the attack, which would be one of its deepest and most daring strikes into Russia since the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than 15 months ago.
Russian President Vladimir Putin started work early on Tuesday to receive information about the drone attack from various government agencies, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Putin isn’t planning to address the nation in the wake of the assault, he said.
Asked by the Associated Press whether there is concern in the Kremlin that the invasion of Ukraine is endangering Russian civilians, Peskov said only that attacks on Russia reinforce the need to prosecute the war.
Russian political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, said the Kremlin’s policy is to downplay the attacks.
“You ask, why is Putin behaving like this, does he really not understand and fear the consequences?” she wrote in a Telegram post. “Apparently he isn’t afraid, and everything is built on the idea that has been voiced more than once about a patient people who will understand everything and endure everything.”
Still, the attacks have raised questions about the effectiveness of Russia’s air defense systems.
A senior Russian lawmaker, Andrei Kartapolov, told Russian business news site RBC that “we have a very big country and there will always be a loophole where the drone can fly around the areas where air defense systems are located.”
Kartapolov said the purpose of the attacks was to unnerve the Russian people. “It’s an intimidation act aimed at the civilian population,” RBC quoted him as saying. “It’s designed to create a wave of panic.”
Moscow residents reported hearing explosions before dawn. Police were seen working at one site of a crashed drone in southwest Moscow. An area near a residential building was fenced off, and police put the drone debris in a cardboard box before carrying it away.
At another site, apartment windows were shattered and there were scorch marks on the building’s front.
It was the second reported attack on Moscow. Russian authorities said two drones targeted the Kremlin earlier this month in what they portrayed as an attempt on President Vladimir Putin’s life.
Ukrainian drones have reportedly flown deep into Russia multiple times. In December, Russia claimed it had shot down drones at airfields in the Saratov and Ryazan regions in western Russia. Three soldiers were reported killed in the attack in Saratov, which targeted an important military airfield.
Before that, Russia reported shooting down a Ukrainian drone that targeted the headquarters of its Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol in Russia-annexed Crimea.
In Ukraine, Russia launched a pre-dawn air raid on Kyiv, killing at least one person and sending the capital’s residents again scrambling into shelters.
At least 20 Shahed explosive drones were destroyed by air defense forces in Kyiv’s airspace in Russia’s latest attack on the Ukrainian capital. Overall, Ukraine shot down 29 of 31 drones fired into the country, most of them in the Kyiv area, the air force said.
Before daylight, the buzzing of drones could be heard over the city, followed by loud explosions as they were taken down by air defense systems.
A woman who was killed in Kyiv’s Holosiiv district died after she had “come out onto her balcony to look at drones being shot down,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a Telegram post.
A high-rise building in the same district caught fire after being hit by debris either from drones being hit or interceptor missiles. The building’s upper two floors were destroyed, and people were feared to be lying under the rubble, the Kyiv Military Administration said. More than 20 people were evacuated.
Resident Valeriya Oreshko told The Associated Press in the aftermath that even though the immediate threat was over, the attacks had everyone on edge.
“You are happy that you are alive, but think about what will happen next,” the 39-year-old said.
A resident who gave only her first name, Oksana, said the whole building shook when it was hit.
“Go to shelters, because you really do not know where (the drone) will fly,” she advised others.
Elsewhere in the capital, falling debris caused a fire in a private house in Darnytskyi district and three cars were set alight in Pechersky district, according to the military administration.
The series of attacks that began Sunday included a rare daylight attack Monday that left puffs of white smoke in the blue skies.
Associated Press writer Vasilisa Stepanenko in Kyiv, Ukraine; David Rising in Bangkok; and Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia contributed to this report. Kozlowska reported from Tallinn, Estonia.