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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Russia says Ukraine fired drones at three regions

Soldiers with the 110th Separate Mechanized Brigade relocating after firing a DANA, a wheeled 152 mm self-propelled artillery gun, at a Russian target in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023.

By Vivek Shankar and Constant Méheut

Russia said Ukraine fired a string of drones over the weekend in an attempt to attack border regions and the capital, Moscow, in the latest strikes deep inside Russian borders.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense said Sunday that its forces had intercepted Ukrainian drones overnight in the regions of Bryansk and Kursk, both of which border Ukraine. A drone crashed into an apartment building in Kursk but did not cause any injuries, the regional governor said on the Telegram messaging app.

The border region of Belgorod also was attacked by drones over the weekend, according to Russian authorities. One person was killed in the village of Shchetinovka and another drone was intercepted by air defenses Saturday, the regional governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said in Telegram posts.

Russian claims had not been independently verified, and Ukrainian officials did not immediately comment, as is their general custom on attacks inside Russia.

Such attacks have recently become a more regular occurrence in the 18-month-long war. Since July, Russian officials have reported that more than two dozen drones have targeted the Moscow region alone.

Throughout the summer, the intensifying attacks — many of which have been carried out with Ukrainian-made drones — have hit buildings in central Moscow’s financial district and a supersonic bomber aircraft stationed south of St. Petersburg.

Though the scale of the destruction pales in comparison to the devastation wrought by Russia’s aerial attacks in Ukraine, the assaults have caused damage and disruption.

U.S. officials have said the drone attacks are intended to demonstrate to the Ukrainian public that Kyiv can still strike back, even as its counteroffensive to reclaim Russian-occupied territory in the south and east of Ukraine moves slowly. Another objective, as top Ukrainian officials have said, is to bring the war home to the people of Russia.

But it remains unclear whether such long-distance strikes are having any effect on Russia’s battlefield operations. News reports this past week, including from The New York Times, indicated that Ukrainian and U.S. officials have had disagreements about tactics and strategy in the counteroffensive, especially on where to deploy troops.

Here’s what else is happening in the war:

— Jet collision: Three Ukrainian pilots died Friday after two combat training aircraft collided in a region west of Kyiv, the Ukrainian air force said. Among the victims was Andriy Pilshchykov, better known by his call sign “Juice,” who had been a frequent voice in Western media advocating for the supply of F-16 fighter jets. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine paid tribute to Juice late Saturday, saying that he had “helped our country a lot.” He said an investigation was underway into what caused the crash and expressed condolences to families and friends of the victims.

— Black Sea corridor: A second cargo ship has sailed from Odesa, according to marine traffic data, traveling through the temporary corridor set up by Ukraine’s government for civilian vessels after Russia pulled out of an agreement allowing Ukraine to export its grain.

It was not immediately clear what the vessel, which sailed under a Liberian flag and was en route to Bulgaria, was carrying. The temporary corridor, which hugs the western Black Sea coast from Ukraine to Bulgaria, was established to allow passage for civilian ships that have been docked in Ukrainian ports since before Russia’s full-scale invasion. But Ukrainian officials said they were considering using this new route to restart grain shipments, an uncertain option given Russia’s threats to vessels in the Black Sea going to and from Ukraine.

— Attacks across Ukraine: Ukrainian officials said Russian shelling killed at least two people on Sunday. One woman was killed in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine and another died in the Kharkiv region of the northeast, local military authorities said.

Ukraine’s air force also said Russian forces launched a wave of missiles toward Kyiv and the surrounding area early Sunday, with air defense systems intercepting four cruise missiles. But debris from downed missiles injured two people and damaged 10 houses in the Kyiv region, the local military administration said in a statement.

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