Drone strikes near Moscow, Putin orders border control

Kyiv, Ukraine –

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered the border with Ukraine to be strengthened, including one that crashed just 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Moscow in an alarming deployment for Russia’s defense. Drones attacked inside Russian territory.

The drones caused no injuries, but raised questions about the security of the Kremlin more than a year after Russia’s full-scale invasion of the neighboring country.

Moscow blamed Kiev for the attack. Ukrainian officials did not immediately claim responsibility, but likewise avoided directly acknowledging responsibility for past airstrikes and sabotage, stressing that Ukraine has the right to strike any target within Russia.

Putin did not mention the specific attacks during his speech in the Russian capital, but his comments came hours after drones targeted several regions in southern and western Russia. I was. Authorities have closed St. Petersburg airspace in retaliation for what some reports said was a drone.

Also on Tuesday, several Russian TV stations aired warnings of a missile attack, with officials blaming the hacking attack.

According to local Russian authorities, the drone strikes on Monday night and Tuesday morning targeted areas of Russia along the border with Ukraine and areas further inside Russia.

The drone landed near the village of Guvastvo, 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Moscow, Andrei Vorobyov, governor of the region surrounding the Russian capital, said in an online statement.

Vorobyov said the drone did not cause any damage, but likely targeted a “civilian infrastructure object.”

Photographs of the drone showed it to be a Ukrainian-made model with a reported range of up to 800 kilometers (about 500 miles), but without the ability to carry large amounts of explosives.

Russian forces shot down a Ukrainian drone in the Bryansk region early Tuesday morning, regional governor Alexander Bogomaz said in a Telegram post.

Russia’s Belgorod region was also targeted Monday night by three drones, one of which flew through the window of an apartment building in the capital of the same name, Belgorod, according to local authorities. Regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said the drone caused minor damage to buildings and vehicles.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Ukraine used drones to attack facilities in the Krasnodar region and nearby Adygea. The drones were shot down by electronic warfare assets, he said, adding that one of them hit a field and another strayed from its flight path and missed an infrastructure facility it was supposed to attack.

Ukrainian drone attacks against the Russian border regions of Bryansk and Belgorod are not uncommon, but attacks further south into the Krasnodar and Adygea regions were notable.

A fire broke out at an oil depot in Russia’s Krasnodar region on Monday, Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti agency reported. A Russian telegram channel claimed two drones exploded near the warehouse.

Some Russian commentators described the drone strike as an attempt by Ukraine to demonstrate its ability to strike deep into the front lines, increase tensions in Russia and rally the Ukrainian people. A Russian war blogger described the raid as a possible rehearsal for a larger and more ambitious attack.

Last year, Russian officials repeatedly reported shooting down Ukrainian drones over annexed Crimea. In December, the Russian military said Ukraine used drones to attack two bases of long-range bombers deep in Russian territory.

Separately, the government of St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) north of the Ukrainian border, said early Tuesday morning at the city’s main airport, Pulkovo Airport. announced a temporary suspension of all departures and arrivals. He did not disclose the reason for the move.

A few hours ago, an unconfirmed report on the Russian Telegram social network mentioned that the airspace over St. Petersburg had been closed and that Russian fighter jets were flying over it. It was not immediately clear if this was related to the drone strike in southern Russia.

The Russian military said its air defense units in western Russia conducted training on “detection, interception and identification” of enemy targets in its airspace, and in conjunction with civil air traffic services in emergency situations.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not specifically mention St. Petersburg, but its statement appeared to be intended to explain the temporary closure of the airspace.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the situation in St. Petersburg, urging reporters to wait for more details from the country’s aviation authorities or the military. He said he had “complete information” about

In a speech at the FSB, Russia’s main security agency, Putin urged the FSB to step up security on the Ukrainian border.

Russian media reported Tuesday that air raid warnings have disrupted programming on several television channels and radio stations in several parts of Russia.

In a video posted by some news sites, a yellow signboard with people heading for an air raid shelter was projected on the TV, and a woman’s voice said, “Caution! Air raid warning. Let’s go to the shelter immediately.” was repeated.

In an online statement, Russia’s Ministry of Emergencies said the announcement was a hoax “as a result of hacking of servers of radio stations and TV channels in some regions of Russia.”

In another development, a new Russian shelling of the southern Ukraine city of Kherson on Tuesday killed four people and wounded five, regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said in a Telegram.

A 68-year-old man was also killed when Russian troops shelled the town of Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine, said its governor Oleh Syniehubov.

The heaviest fighting continues in Ukraine’s eastern regions, where Russia wants control of all four provinces it illegally annexed in September.

Ukrainian officials said the Russian military has deployed additional troops and equipment to those areas, including the latest T-90 tanks.

Meanwhile, satellite imagery analyzed by the Associated Press appeared to show a Beriev A-50 early warning plane parked at a Belarusian air force base just prior to the partisan attack.

An image from Planet Labs PBC shows the A-50 parked on the apron of the Maturishchi Air Base near the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on February 19.

A low-resolution image taken on February 23 showed a similarly shaped aircraft still parked, but has since been obscured by thick clouds. increase.

Belarusian opposition organization BYPOL claimed that guerrillas damaged an A-50 in Sunday’s attack.

The Associated Press was unable to independently confirm the alleged attacks, which both Belarus and Russia have yet to acknowledge.


Associated Press writer John Gambrel contributed to this report from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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