Moscow, Crimea hit by drone strikes, Russia says, as southern Ukraine gets bombarded – National |

Russian authorities accused Ukraine of launching a drone attack on Moscow early Monday that saw one of the aircraft fall near the Defence Ministry’s main headquarters, while the Russian military unleashed new strikes on port infrastructure in southern Ukraine.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said there were no casualties when the drones struck two nonresidential buildings in Moscow. Separately, a Ukrainian drone struck an ammunition depot in Russian-annexed Crimea, forcing a halt in traffic on a major highway, Russian authorities said.

In Moscow, Russian media reported that one of the drones fell on the Komsomolsky highway near the capital’s centre, shattering shop windows and damaged the roof of a house just about 200 metres away from the towering riverside Defense Ministry building. The ministry’s main headquarters has Pantsyr air defense systems placed on the roof.

Click to play video: 'Russian strike on Odesa kills at least 1, injures 20 and damages Ukraine’s largest cathedral'

Russian strike on Odesa kills at least 1, injures 20 and damages Ukraine’s largest cathedral

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the drone targeted the Defence Ministry’s headquarters, which is located 2.7 kilometres away from the Kremlin, or was heading to some other target in central Moscow.

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Another drone hit an office building in southern Moscow, gutting several upper floors — more visible damage compared to earlier drone strikes on the Russian capital.

Emergency workers were inspecting the damage and traffic was halted on sections of highways where the drones fell.

Ukrainian authorities didn’t immediately claim responsibility for the strike, which was the second drone attack on the Russian capital this month.

Click to play video: 'Ukraine launches drone strike at ammunition depot in Russia-occupied Crimea'

Ukraine launches drone strike at ammunition depot in Russia-occupied Crimea

In the previous attack on July 4, the Russian military said four of the five drones were downed by air defenses on the outskirts of Moscow and the fifth was jammed by electronic warfare means and forced down. The raid prompted authorities to temporarily restrict flights at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport and divert flights to two other Moscow airports.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted Monday that “the intensity of attempts to attack our regions with drones has grown.”

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“So measures are being taken, a very intense daily 24-hour work is underway,” Peskov said, without offering any details about whether Russia’s air defence systems have been enhanced because of the increased attacks.

Russian authorities said that another Ukrainian drone attack early Monday struck an ammunition depot in northern Crimea and forced a halt in traffic on a major highway and a railway crossing the Black Sea peninsula that was illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014. Railway traffic was restored several hours later.

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The Moscow-appointed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, said that authorities also ordered the evacuation of several villages within a five-kilometer (three-mile) radius of the depot that was hit.

Aksyonov said the military shot down or jammed 11 attacking drones, while the Defense Ministry claimed later that 11 of the 17 attacking drones were jammed and crashed into the Black Sea and another three were shot down.

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Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s digital transformation minister, noted on his messaging app channel that Monday’s drone attacks on Moscow and Crimea signaled that Russia’s electronic warfare means and air defenses are “less and less able to protect the skies of the invaders,” adding that “there will be more of it.”

Ukrainska Pravda reported that the drone attack on Moscow was a special operation by Ukrainian military intelligence.

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On Saturday, a previous drone attack on Crimea hit another ammunition depot, sending huge plumes of black smoke skyward and also forcing the evacuation of residents,

Russian forces, meanwhile, struck port infrastructure on the Danube River in southern Ukraine with exploding drones early Monday, wounding seven people and destroying a grain hangar and storage for other cargo, Ukrainian officials said. Ukraine’s military reported downing three of the attacking drones.

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The strike was the latest in a barrage of attacks that has damaged critical port infrastructure in southern Ukraine in the past week. The Kremlin has described the strikes as retribution for last week’s Ukrainian strike on the crucial Kerch Bridge linking Russia with Crimea.

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Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum via video link over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the bridge a legitimate target for Ukraine, noting that Russia has used it to ferry military supplies and it must be “neutralized.”

Since Moscow canceled a landmark grain deal a week ago amid Kyiv’s grinding efforts to retake its occupied territories, Russia has launched repeated attacks on Odesa, a key hub for exporting grain.

On Sunday, at least one person was killed and 22 others wounded in an attack on Odesa that severely damaged 25 landmarks across the city, including the Transfiguration Cathedral.

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‘Prices will go up’: Calls for action amid looming global grain crisis

UNESCO strongly condemned the attack on the cathedral and other heritage sites and said it will send a mission in coming days to assess damage. Odesa’s historic center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site earlier this year, and the agency said the Russian attacks contradict Moscow’s pledge to take precautions to spare World Heritage sites in Ukraine.

The Russian military denied that it targeted the Transfiguration Cathedral, claiming without offering evidence that it was likely struck by a Ukrainian air defense missile. Peskov on Monday echoed that claim, insisting without any evidence that the accusations against Russia “are an absolute lie.”

Overall, a total of 10 people have been wounded in Russian attacks on Ukraine over the past 24 hours, according to Ukrainian officials.

In addition to those injured in the Odesa region, one civilian was wounded during the shelling of 24 towns and villages in the partially occupied Kherson region, while another was wounded in artillery fire close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukraine’s presidential office said.

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A 70-year-old woman was also reportedly wounded after FAB-250 guided aerial bombs were dropped on the village of Kucherivka in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region.

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