Moscow and Crimea hit by drone attacks – as Russia strikes ports on the Danube

11 months ago 16

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Two drones have crashed into buildings in Moscow, Russian officials said, with one crashing close to the Defence Ministry in the city centre.

Nobody was hurt in the drone attack early on Monday morning, while a senior Ukrainian official said there would be more to come. One drone struck close to the Moscow building where the Russian military holds briefings, a symbolic blow which underscores the reach of such drones.

A third “helicopter-type drone” which was not carrying explosives fell on a cemetery in a town outside Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement in which it bombastically vowed that all those responsible would be found and punished.

It came as Russia destroyed Ukrainian grain warehouses on the River Danube in a drone attack of its own. The attack targeted a vital export route for Kyiv in an expanding air campaign that Moscow began last week after quitting a crucial deal that allowed Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea.

Last week’s attacks mostly struck the ports of Odesa and Mykolaiv but Monday’s pre-dawn strikes hit infrastructure along the Danube, an export route whose importance has grown since the demise of the grain deal.

The Moscow drone attack, though not serious in terms of its human cost or damage, was the most high profile of its kind since two drones reached the Kremlin in May.

A swarm of 17 drones also launched attacks overnight on Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, the Russian Defence Ministry said, adding it had used anti-drone equipment and air defences to bring them down. The Russian-installed head of Crimea said an ammunition warehouse had been struck and a residential building damaged.

One of the ports damaged on the River Danube, in southern Ukraine's Odesa region

(EPA)

“We regard what happened as yet another use of terrorist methods and intimidation of the civilian population by the military and political leadership of Ukraine,” the foreign ministry said of the Moscow and Crimea drone attacks.

“The Russian Federation reserves the right to take harsh retaliatory measures.”

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said Moscow needed to broaden the range of targets it struck in Ukraine, adding what he called high-impact unexpected and unconventional ones.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose government rarely comments on attacks inside Russia or on Russian-controlled territory, had on Sunday promised what he called “a retaliation to Russian terrorists for Odesa”.

That was a reference to days of deadly Russian missile strikes against targets in the port city which Moscow says are payback for a Ukrainian attack last week on the Crimean Bridge which killed the parents of a 14-year-old girl.

Referring to Monday’s attacks on warehouses on the Danube, regional governor Oleh Kiper wrote on the Telegram messaging app: “The Russian terrorists have again attacked the Odesa region overnight. Port infrastructure on the Danube river is the target this time.”

Global wheat and corn futures rose sharply on fears that Russian attacks and more fighting, including the overnight drone strike on Moscow, could threaten grain exports and shipping.

Hours after Monday’s attack, the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres appealed for Russia to return to the Black Sea grain deal, warning in Rome of a devastating impact on “vulnerable countries struggling to feed their people”.

Responding to the drone attacks on Moscow and Crimea, Ukrainian deputy prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov said: “Today at night drones attacked the capital of ‘the orcs’ and Crimea,” using a derogatory term some Ukrainians use for Russians. “Electronic warfare and air defence are already less able to defend the skies of the occupiers.”

Writing on Telegram, Mr Fedorov, one of the officials spearheading Ukrainian efforts to create an “army of drones”, added: “No matter what happens there will be more of this.”

Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had used radio-electronic equipment to take out the two Ukrainian drones, forcing them to crash, thereby foiling what it called an attempted “terrorist attack”.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the RTVI TV channel that Ukraine was guilty of what she called “an act of international terrorism”.

Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Telegram that two non-residential buildings were struck at around 4am local time, adding there was no serious damage or casualties.

Citing emergency services, Russian state news agencies reported that drone fragments had been found near a building on Komsomolsky Avenue, which runs through Moscow. The site is close to various Defence Ministry buildings, including some reported to be affiliated with Russia’s GRU military intelligence service.

Attention is now likely to turn to where the drones were launched from and whether pro-Ukrainian saboteurs inside Russia had a role. After May’s drone attack on the Kremlin, US drone experts concluded they might have been launched from inside Russia.

Reuters

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