Drone attack on Moscow is a “terrorist act” by Kiev, officials say

Russia said on Monday it “neutralised” two Ukrainian drones in Moscow overnight, one of which crashed near the defense ministry in what it claimed was a “terrorist act” by Kiev on the Russian capital.

“On the morning of July 24, an attempt by the Kiev regime to carry out a terrorist act using two drones on objects (located) on the territory of the city of Moscow was stopped,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

“Two Ukrainian drones were disabled and crashed. There were no casualties,” he added.

The double attack comes after Kiev promised “retribution” for Russian attacks on Odessa in southern Ukraine overnight from Saturday to Sunday.

Police block a road near a damaged non-residential building on Komsomolsky Prospekt after a drone strike was condemned in Moscow, July 24, 2023 (AFP – Alexander Nemenov)

According to Russian state agency TASS, one of the drones fell near the Russian Defense Ministry, on a major axis of the Russian capital, Komsomolsky Prospekt. TASS said, “fragments” of the drone were found on this route.

AFP reporters at the scene saw a building with a damaged roof. The police cordoned off the area.

Several law enforcement vehicles and fire trucks, as well as an ambulance, were visible before a police officer asked an AFP reporter to stop filming.

Another drone struck a business center on Likhacheva Street, near one of Moscow’s main ring boulevards.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the drone strikes hit “non-residential” buildings at 4 a.m. local time (0100 GMT).

He said emergency services were dispatched to the scene and there were no casualties.

RIA Novosti news agency aired video footage from the business center, where damage could be seen on the top of a high-rise building. The road leading there has been closed.

– Moscow already on target –

Moscow and its region, more than 500 km from the Ukrainian border, have been the target of several drone attacks this year, including an attack on the Kremlin in May.

On 4 July, Russia announced that it had shot down five drones in the area of ​​its capital. The attack, attributed to Ukraine, according to Moscow, caused no casualties or damage, but disrupted operations at Vnukovo, one of the capital’s three main international airports, for three hours.

Moscow said on 21 June that it had disabled three drones in the Moscow region, two of which were near a military base, and accused Kiev of being behind this previous attack.

Ukraine promised “retribution” on Sunday for the firing of “19 Russian missiles” over Odessa, whose historic center was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the beginning of the year.

This Ukrainian town, regularly targeted by attacks from Moscow, suffered a new overnight attack that killed two people and injured 22 others, including at least four children, according to Ukrainian officials.

The Transfiguration Cathedral was largely destroyed. Collapsed walls, charred signs, rattling chandeliers: this magnificent building over 200 years old is in ruins.

“Missiles against peaceful cities, against apartment buildings, a cathedral (…)”, blasted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

He promised, “There will certainly be retribution against the Russian terrorists in Odessa.”

Twenty-five monuments were damaged in Sunday’s attacks, according to regional governor Oleg Kiper, who accused the Russian military of “deliberately aiming its missiles at the historic center of Odessa”.

The Russian military claims to have only targeted military sites. On Sunday, it claimed to have bombed sites “where terrorist acts against Russia were being prepared using naval drones”.

According to Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russian diplomacy, the destruction carried out on the religious building “is also at the discretion of Kiev”, which, according to her, places its air defense systems in residential areas.

Built on the Black Sea coast, Odessa is a strategic city for sea transit in the region.

A man stands amid the rubble of the Odessa Cathedral affected by a missile attack in Odessa (Ukraine) on July 23, 2023 (AFP - Oleksandr Zimanov)
A man stands amid the rubble of the Odessa Cathedral affected by a missile attack in Odessa (Ukraine) on July 23, 2023 (AFP – Oleksandr Zimanov)

The Russian attack on the city came shortly after Moscow announced it had conducted military drills including missile launches in the Black Sea.

Tensions along this sea route have risen since the expiration of a key grain agreement for World Food, which allowed Ukrainian grain exports.

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