Russia is blaming Ukraine for launching a drone attack on Moscow early Tuesday which reportedly left two people injured and several buildings damaged, a rare incident in the Russian capital after months of war.
While incidents in Moscow are uncommon, residents in Kyiv have faced 17 airstrikes this month. There was a Russian bombardment of the Ukrainian capital overnight, which officials said killed at least one person.
At least three residential buildings in Moscow were damaged by drones on Tuesday, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing emergency services and residents. The Investigative Committee of Russia has opened a criminal case on the matter.
Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said there were no serious injuries reported from the aerial assault, which caused “minor damage” and emergency services were on the scene.
Putin, in his first remarks following the incident, said Kyiv had chosen to intimidate Russian citizens by targeting residential buildings and that “this is a clear sign of terrorist activity.”
The Russian president suggested the alleged attack was in response to recent Russian strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure. His forces have frequently hit civilian targets during the conflict in Ukraine.
Ukraine has denied direct involvement in the drone attack.
War comes to Moscow
There have been a handful of incidents within Russian territory since Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of its neighbor last February, with most of the fighting taking place inside Ukraine.
Earlier this month, two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were destroyed over the Kremlin in a murky attack that Russia blamed on Kyiv and claimed was an attempt to target Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kyiv forcefully denied the allegation.
On Tuesday, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said Kyiv was also at fault for what it called a “terrorist attack” that involved eight aircraft-type UAVs which were shot down or diverted earlier in the morning.
“All enemy UAVs were destroyed,” the defense ministry said in a statement.
Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that it reserved the right to take “the most severe measures” in response to Kyiv’s alleged actions.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Tuesday: “Of course, we enjoy watching and predicting an increase in attacks. But of course, we have nothing to do directly with it.”
Podolyak told the Breakfast Show YouTube channel: “What is growing in Russia is the karmic payment that Russia will gradually pay in aggravated form for everything it does in Ukraine.”
Two senior Ukrainian figures have been put on the Russian Interior Ministry’s wanted list following the attack.
The ministry said the Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valery Zaluzhnyi, and the commander of Ukrainian ground forces, Alexander Syrskyi, were being added to the list.
The governor of the Moscow region, Andrey Vorobyov, said on Telegram that the explosions residents heard in the early hours was “our air defense in action.”
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said later Tuesday there’s currently “no threat” to Moscow’s residents, following the alleged drone attack.
According to RIA, a UAV hit the upper floors of residential building number 98 on Profsoyuznaya Street in the southwest of Moscow, damaging the facade and glazing of the building. Another hit a flat on the 14th floor of an apartment building on Leninsky Prospekt (Lenin Avenue), RIA reported, citing a resident of the building.
RIA reported a third drone reportedly damaged the facade of a 24-story residential building on Atlasova Street in New Moscow, a former Moscow suburb in the southwest that was extended to become part of Moscow after an extensive territorial expansion of the Russian capital in 2012.
Alexander Khinshtein, a member of the Russian Parliament from Putin’s United Russia party, said Tuesday’s drone attack on Moscow was “a new reality we will have to recognize.”
“Undoubtedly, sabotage and terrorist attacks by Ukraine will only grow. We need to drastically strengthen defense and security measures, especially in the area of countering drones,” Khinshtein said.
He said the fact that drones were shot down “should not comfort anyone,” before adding: “Do not underestimate the enemy.”
Meanwhile, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russian private military company Wagner, launched an expletive-laden tirade at the Russian defense ministry hours after the alleged drone attack.
“As a person who understands this somewhat, I can tell you that many years ago it was necessary to deal with these [drone] programs – that we are now years behind our opponents, years, maybe decades,” Prigozhin said in an audio recording responding to a question from a journalist.
The mercenary boss – who has been engaged in a bitter public feud with Russia’s military leadership – said the Russian Ministry of Defense was doing “absolutely nothing at all” to catch up with the needed technology.
“Why the f**k are you allowing these drones to hit Moscow?” Prigozhin added. “Let your houses burn.”
Meanwhile, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said there had been dozens of strikes against several parts of the region by Ukrainian mortar and artillery fire over the last 24 hours – by far the highest reported number in a single day.
The region of Belgorod has seen a growing number of incidences of cross-border fire, in both directions, as well as an incursion earlier this week from Ukraine by groups calling themselves anti-Putin Russian partisans.
Kyiv also faced air strikes overnight
In Kyiv, Ukraine’s air defenses destroyed 29 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched at the capital overnight. Between 11:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. local, a total of 31 “kamikaze” drones were launched from the north and south, the Air Force said.
“Almost all of the drones were destroyed on the outskirts of the capital and in the Kyiv sky,” it added.
One person, a 33-year-old woman, was killed and 13 others were injured in the bombardment, Ukraine’s National Police said.
Nine people were injured in the city and four individuals in the wider Kyiv region, the police said.
“In addition, 16 objects were damaged, including civilian cars, buildings, and residential buildings,” the police said in the update.
Kyiv region’s police chief Andrii Nebytov said earlier there had also been 50 reports of damage to houses, commercial properties and cars.
“The police are recording every crime of the Russian army, for which they will definitely be held accountable,” Nebytov wrote. “And as always, we are proud of our air defense units.”
Speaking to CNN’s Fred Pleitgen outside a damaged apartment building in Kyiv’s Holosiivskyi district on Tuesday, the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said he wanted to thank Ukraine’s partners for sending “critically important” air defense systems.
“It worked well, we shoot down almost everything,” Klitschko said. The mayor stressed to CNN that if Ukraine “didn’t have modern air defense from our partners,” the situation would be “much worse” with “more destroyed buildings” and civilian deaths.
He addressed the recent uptick in attacks, highlighting that in May there have been more attacks not just on Kyiv but “also in other cities” throughout Ukraine.
Klitschko accused Putin of trying to bring a “depressing mood” to Ukraine with this latest bombardment, but said Ukrainians remain ready as ever to defend their homeland.
CNN’s Radina Gigova, Nathan Hodge, Sarah Dean, Fred Pleitgen, Vasco Cotovio, Will Bonnet, Niamh Kennedy and Uliana Pavlova contributed to this report.