Drones target Moscow in first attack to hit capital’s civilian areas
By Anatoly Kurmanaev, Ivan Nechepurenko, Marc Santora and Victoria Kim
At least eight drones targeted Moscow early Tuesday, according to Russian authorities, the first attack to hit civilian areas in the Russian capital and a potent sign that the war is increasingly reaching the heart of Russia.
The assault came after yet another overnight bombardment by Russian forces of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, which has faced a barrage of attacks in recent weeks that have put the city on edge and tested the country’s air defenses. Kyiv was attacked with at least 20 drones early Tuesday, leaving one person dead and unnerving exhausted residents.
The dueling strikes reflected the dialed-up tension and shifting priorities ahead of Ukraine’s expected counteroffensive. Ukraine has increasingly been reaching far into Russia-held territory, while Moscow has been adjusting its tactics in an effort to inflict significant damage on Kyiv.
Tuesday’s aerial assault on Moscow — in which at least three residential buildings sustained minor damage — comes weeks after a pair of explosions over the Kremlin, a bold strike aimed at President Vladimir Putin’s seat of power. U.S. officials said the attack was most likely orchestrated by one of Ukraine’s special military or intelligence units.
The Russian defense ministry blamed Ukraine for Tuesday’s assault, describing the strike as a “terrorist attack” and saying that the drones had been intercepted.
Putin briefly commented on the attack, telling a reporter that Russia’s air defenses had proved adequate. “We have stuff to do,” he said in a video clip published by state news media. “We know what needs to be done.”
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, said Kyiv was not “directly involved” but was “happy” to watch. A spokesperson for Ukraine’s air force, which typically maintains a policy of strategic ambiguity over attacks in Russia, declined to comment.
U.S. officials said they were still gathering information, noting that “as a general matter” the United States does not support strikes in Russia but that Tuesday marked the 17th time this month that Russia has attacked Kyiv.
Five of the drones that targeted Moscow on Tuesday were shot down and three others had their systems jammed, according to Russia’s defense ministry. The assault has raised further questions about Russia’s air defenses after explosions were reported over the Kremlin this month, with nationalist commentators calling it a “psychological blow” to Russians.
Attacks on Russia reportedly continued along the border with Ukraine. An anti-Kremlin paramilitary group that this month staged an incursion from Ukrainian territory into southern Russia said that it had attacked the border. “Another successful crossing” of the border, the group, the Russian Volunteer Corps, said on the Telegram messaging app. The claim had not been independently verified.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken was traveling to Sweden on Tuesday, kicking off a four-day visit to Nordic countries that will focus on NATO’s support for Ukraine.