Ukraine on Monday claimed responsibility for the drone attack that hit Moscow overnight, illustrating the vulnerability of the Russian capital, while new strikes hit Crimea and the Ukrainian region of Odessa.
The attack on Moscow was “a special operation of the GUR”, military intelligence, told AFP a source within the Ukrainian Defense who requested anonymity.
This rare claim from Kiev, which usually denies or does not comment, comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had promised retaliation for the Russian strikes on Odessa, carried out this weekend, which left two dead and ravaged a cathedral.
Russia is considering “severe reprisals” after these attacks on Moscow and Crimea, for its part declared Russian diplomacy, accusing the West of being “behind the brazen acts” of Kiev.
The Moscow region had not been the target of drones for almost three weeks. The Russian army, which denounced a “terrorist act”, claimed that two Ukrainian drones had been neutralized and crashed without causing any casualties.
One of the drones fell on a major axis of the Russian capital, Komsomolsky Prospekt, near the Russian Ministry of Defense. AFP journalists saw a building with a damaged roof, several law enforcement vehicles and fire engines, as well as an ambulance.
“It was 3:39 in the morning. The house really shook,” Vladimir, a 70-year-old resident, told AFP. “It’s outrageous that a Ukrainian drone can almost fly to the Ministry of Defense”, he gets carried away.
Another drone hit the business center on Likhacheva Street in southern Moscow, where an AFP photographer saw broken windows on top of a building near a store of French group Leroy Merlin.
Ammunition depot in Crimea
Moscow and its region, located more than 500 km from the Ukrainian border, have already been targeted by drone attacks, including one that hit the Kremlin in May.
On July 4, five drones were shot down over the Moscow region, according to Moscow, an attack that disrupted the operation of Vnukovo, one of the capital’s three international airports.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that “measures” were being taken to defend Moscow and that “all drones” had been shot down.
This attack on Moscow echoes those that have affected annexed Crimea and southern Ukraine for the past week, where tensions have further increased after Russia abandoned a key agreement for the export of Ukrainian cereals via the Black Sea.
In Crimea, an ammunition depot was hit in a new Ukrainian drone strike in the Djankoï district, in the north of the annexed peninsula, Russian governor Sergei Asksionov reported on Monday.
According to the Russian army, 14 Ukrainian drones launched over Crimea were neutralized with jamming systems and three others shot down by anti-aircraft defense.
New attack near Odessa
A new Russian drone attack, lasting “almost four hours”, also targeted Ukrainian port infrastructure on the Danube in the Odessa region and destroyed a grain shed, the Ukrainian army said on Monday.
“I strongly condemn the recent Russian attacks against Ukrainian civilian infrastructure on the Danube, very close to Romania”, NATO member, reacted on Twitter the Romanian President, Klaus Iohannis.
Volodymyr Zelensky had promised Sunday “reprisals” for the firing of Russian missiles on Odessa, whose historic center was listed earlier this year by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Regularly hit by Russian strikes, this port city suffered a new night attack, on the night of Saturday to Sunday, in which two people died and 22 others were injured, including at least four children.
The Transfiguration Cathedral, founded more than 200 years ago, destroyed by the Soviets in 1936, then rebuilt in the early 2000s, was badly damaged by these strikes.
The Kremlin denied Monday having targeted the cathedral, ensuring that it had been hit by Ukrainian “anti-missile” fire. French diplomacy has accused Moscow of having “deliberately” targeted civilian infrastructure there.