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

Russian officials have accused Ukraine of launching a drone attack on Moscow early Monday, with one of the planes landing near the Ministry of Defense headquarters, while Russian forces launched a new attack on port infrastructure in southern Ukraine.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said no one was injured when drones struck two non-residential buildings in Moscow. Separately, a Ukrainian drone struck an ammunition depot in Crimea annexed by Russia, halting traffic on a major highway, Russian officials said.

In Moscow, a drone crashed on the Komsomolsky highway near the center of the capital, breaking shop windows and damaging the roof of a house just 200 meters from the towering Ministry of Defense building along the river, Russian media reported. The Pantir air defense system is installed on the roof of the ministry’s headquarters.

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At least 1 dead, 20 injured, Ukraine’s largest cathedral destroyed in Russian attack on Odesa

It is currently unclear whether the drone was aimed at the Defense Ministry headquarters, 2.7 kilometers from the Kremlin, or another target in central Moscow.

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Another drone hit an office building in southern Moscow, destroying several upper floors. It caused more visible damage compared to previous drone attacks on the Russian capital.

Paramedics are checking the damage, and traffic was stopped on the section of the highway where the drone fell.

Ukrainian officials did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack, but it was the second drone attack on the Russian capital this month.

Click to play video: 'Ukraine launches drone attack on ammunition depot in Russian-occupied Crimea'

Ukraine launches drone attack on ammunition depot in Russian-occupied Crimea

In the previous attack on July 4, the Russian military said four of its five drones had been shot down by air defenses outside Moscow, and a fifth was forcibly shot down after being jammed by electronic warfare means. In the wake of the attack, authorities temporarily restricted flights at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport and rerouted flights to two other Moscow airports.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that “attempts to attack regions of our country with drones are increasing in intensity.”

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“Measures are being taken and very intensive 24/7 work is underway,” Peskov said, without elaborating on whether Russia’s air defenses had been strengthened by the increased attacks.

Russian officials said another Ukrainian drone strike early Monday hit an ammunition depot in northern Crimea, forcing traffic to stop on major highways and railways across the Black Sea Peninsula, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014. Rail traffic was restored after a few hours.

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Moscow-appointed Crimean Emir Sergei Aksyonov said authorities had also ordered the evacuation of several villages within a five-kilometer (three-mile) radius of the attacked warehouses.

Aksyonov said the military shot down or sabotaged 11 strike drones, but the Defense Ministry later claimed that 11 of the 17 strike drones were jammed and crashed into the Black Sea, with three more shot down.

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Ukraine’s Digital Transformation Minister Mikhail Fedorov said in his messaging app channel that Monday’s drone strikes in Moscow and Crimea showed that Russia’s electronic warfare and air defense tools were “increasingly less capable of defending the skies of an aggressor,” adding that “it will become even more likely.”

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

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A previous drone attack in Crimea on Saturday hit another ammunition depot, sending huge plumes of black smoke skyward and forcing residents to evacuate.

Meanwhile, Russian forces launched an explosive drone strike on port infrastructure on the Danube River in southern Ukraine early Monday morning, injuring seven people and destroying a grain hangar and other cargo depots, Ukrainian officials said. The Ukrainian military reportedly shot down three attacking drones.

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The attack was the latest in a series of attacks that have damaged vital port infrastructure in southern Ukraine over the past week. The Kremlin said the attack was in retaliation for Ukraine’s attack last week on the key Kerch bridge connecting Russia and Crimea.

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Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum over the weekend via videolink, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the bridge was a legitimate target for Ukraine, noting that Russia was using it to transport military supplies and that the bridge must be “neutralized”.

As Kiev struggles to retake occupied territories, Russia has repeatedly attacked Odessa, a key grain export hub, since Moscow canceled a landmark grain deal a week ago.

Attacks in Odesa on Sunday killed at least one person, injured 22 others and severely damaged 25 landmarks in the city, including the Cathedral of the Transfiguration.

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UNESCO strongly condemned the attacks on the cathedral and other sites and said it would send a mission within days to assess the extent of the damage. The historic center of Odesa was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site earlier this year, and the agency said the attack by Russia was inconsistent with the Russian government’s promise to take precautionary measures to protect Ukraine’s world heritage sites.

The Russian military denied targeting the Transfiguration Cathedral, citing no evidence that it was likely hit by Ukrainian air defense missiles. Mr Peskov echoed that allegation on Monday, claiming that the accusations against Russia were “absolutely false” without any evidence.

A total of 10 people have been injured in Russian attacks on Ukraine over the past 24 hours, Ukrainian officials said.

In addition to the wounded in the Odessa region, the Ukrainian president’s office said one civilian was wounded in shelling of 24 towns and villages in the partially occupied Kherson region and another in shelling near the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.

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A 70-year-old woman was also reportedly injured when a FAB-250 guided aerial bomb was dropped on the village of Kuchelyovka, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine.

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