KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian authorities have accused Ukraine of launching a drone attack on Moscow early Monday that saw one of the drones go down near the main headquarters of the Defense Ministry, while the Russian military launched new strikes on port infrastructure in southern Ukraine.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said there were no casualties when the drones hit two non-residential buildings. The Ministry of Defense claimed that the military blocked the two attacking drones, forcing them to crash.
Russian media reported that one of the drones fell on the Komsomolsky highway near the center of Moscow, near the main building of the Ministry of Defense. Another drone hit an office building in southern Moscow, destroying its upper floors.
Ukrainian authorities did not immediately claim responsibility for the strike, which was the second drone attack on the Russian capital this month.
In the previous July 4 attack, the Russian military said four of the five drones were shot down by air defenses on the outskirts of Moscow and the fifth was jammed by electronic warfare assets and forced down. The raid prompted authorities to temporarily restrict flights at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport and divert flights to two other Moscow airports.
Russian authorities said another Ukrainian drone attack struck an ammunition depot in Crimea early on Monday and forced traffic to a halt on a major highway and railroad crossing the Black Sea peninsula that was illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014.
Moscow-appointed Crimea leader Sergei Aksyonov said authorities had also ordered the evacuation of several villages within a 5-kilometre (3-mile) radius of the affected depot.
Aksyonov said the military shot down or blocked 11 attack drones.
A similar drone attack on Crimea on Saturday hit another ammunition depot, sending huge plumes of black smoke skyward and also forcing residents to evacuate,
Meanwhile, Russian forces struck port infrastructure on the Danube River in southern Ukraine on Monday morning with explosive drones, injuring four workers and destroying a grain shed and storage for other goods, the Ukrainian military said. He said Ukrainian forces shot down three of the attacking drones.
The strike was the latest in a series of attacks that damaged critical port infrastructure in southern Ukraine last week. The Kremlin described the strikes as retaliation for last week’s Ukrainian strike on the crucial Kerch Bridge linking Russia with Crimea.
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 transport military supplies and that it must be “neutralized”.
Since Moscow canceled a landmark grain deal a week ago amid strenuous efforts by Kyiv to retake its occupied territories, Russia has launched repeated attacks on Odessa, a key grain export hub.
On Sunday, at least one person was killed and 22 others injured in an attack on Odessa that severely damaged 25 monuments in the city, including the Transfiguration Cathedral.
UNESCO strongly condemned the attack on the cathedral and other heritage sites and said it would send a mission in the coming days to assess the damage. The historic center of Odessa 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 Ukraine’s World Heritage sites.
The Russian military has denied targeting the Transfiguration Cathedral, saying without providing evidence that it was likely hit by a Ukrainian air defense missile.
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