The official from Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence, an arm of its Ministry of Defense, said the agency was responsible for the operation that Russia described as a “terrorist attack of the Kiev regime,” using the Russian spelling for Ukraine’s capital.
The official was speaking on condition of anonymity because they had not received authorization to talk publicly about the incident.
Ukraine’s minister of Digital Transformation also claimed the attack. Mykhailo Fedorov, whose ministry oversees his country’s “Army of Drones” procurement plan, claimed there would be more strikes to come.
The drones struck two non-residential buildings in the Russian capital – including one near the Ministry of Defense headquarters – in Monday’s early hours, according to Russian authorities, who said they had “thwarted” the attack.
The strikes caused no serious damage or casualties, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Telegram Monday – but the incident will serve as a reminder of the range of Kyiv’s drones, as Ukraine seeks to bring the war closer to home for Russians.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense said that two drones were “suppressed by electronic warfare means and crashed.”
“On the morning of July 24, an attempt by the Kyiv regime to launch a terrorist attack using two unmanned aerial vehicles against facilities on the territory of the city of Moscow was thwarted,” the ministry said on Telegram.
Social media footage of the aftermath, verified by CNN, showed damage to the Russian defense ministry complex.
One of the buildings seen damaged in footage geolocated by CNN houses the ministry’s military orchestra. It was not immediately clear if that had been caused by the drones.
The area also houses the Russian Foreign Military Intelligence, known as GRU, 26165 unit, which carries out cyber activities, according to multiple Western sources. It’s also in the vicinity of the Ministry of Defense’s National Defense Management Center.
Later Monday morning, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists that Russian air defenses had worked successfully.
“All the drones have been neutralized today, and measures are being taken,” Peskov said. “As for the development of the defense system, ensuring its more intensive work, this is a question for the Ministry of Defense.”
‘Everything started to shake’
According to Russian state media outlet TASS, a drone hit a high-rise business center on Likhacheva Avenue in Moscow, causing drone debris to fall on Komsomolsky Avenue.
Law enforcement agencies and emergency services are currently working on the scene, and traffic on Komsomolsky Avenue from the center of the city towards the affected region has been blocked off, according to TASS, citing the Department of Transportation and Road Infrastructure Development of Moscow. CNN could not independently verify the reports.
A resident who was the area at the time of the attack told Reuters she was asleep and woken by an explosion.
“Everything started to shake. It felt like the whole building had come down. I looked out of the window, I live (in the neighboring building) on the side where there’s less damage. And it felt strange – the damage was so minor,” the resident, who gave her name as Polina, said.
“It sounded worse than it looked, as it seemed like the whole mall had exploded,” she added.
A second resident, who identified themselves to Reuters as Sergei, said he heard a bang “and then nothing.”
“We did not see anything flying, even though the windows were open… and we should have heard the sound (of something flying), but no, nothing,” he said.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense also on Monday accused Ukraine of launching 17 drones towards Russian-occupied Crimea overnight. The drones had been downed by its air defenses, with no casualties, the ministry said.
The reported attacks come after Russian missiles badly damaged a historic Orthodox cathedral in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa, sparking outrage and prompting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to vow retaliation.