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Russia says Ukrainian drones targeted Moscow office tower, Black Sea patrol boats

MOSCOW — A Ukrainian drone downed by Russia on Tuesday struck a Moscow office tower that was also hit over the weekend, as multiple other drones were downed, Russian officials said.

“Several drones were shot down by air defense systems while trying to fly to Moscow. One [drone] flew into the same tower in [Moscow] as last time. The facade on the 21st floor was damaged,” Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Telegram.

“There is no information on casualties,” he said, adding that emergency services were on the scene.

On Sunday, Russia said it had downed Ukrainian drones targeting the capital in an attack that damaged two office towers in Moscow-City, a commercial development.

Russia’s defense ministry blamed Tuesday’s attack on Ukraine, saying that multiple facilities in the Moscow region had been targeted.

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“Two Ukrainian [unmanned aerial vehicles] were destroyed by air defense systems over the territory of the Odintsovo and Narofominsk districts of Moscow region,” the ministry said in a statement. “Another drone was suppressed by electronic warfare and, having lost control, crashed on the territory of the Moscow-City non-residential building complex.”

A view of a damaged office block of the Moscow International Business Center (Moskva City) following a reported drone attack in Moscow on August 1, 2023 (Alexander NEMENOV / AFP)

Shortly after the drone attack, Moscow’s Vnukovo international airport was briefly closed, TASS state news agency reported.

“Vnukovo was temporarily closed for arrivals and departures, the planes are redirected to other airports,” emergency services said, according to TASS, which later reported that it had resumed normal operations.

The same airport was briefly closed after Sunday’s attack, and earlier this month, a volley of drone attacks disrupted air traffic at Vnukovo, to the city’s southwest.

Moscow and its environs, located about 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the Ukrainian border, had rarely been targeted during the conflict in Ukraine until several drone attacks this year.

Tuesday’s attack is the latest in a series of drone assaults — including on the Kremlin and Russian towns near the border with Ukraine — that Moscow has blamed on Kyiv.

Black Sea patrol boats targeted

Russia also said on Tuesday that it has repelled an overnight Ukrainian drone attack targeting its patrol boats in the Black Sea.

“During the night, Ukrainian armed forces tried without success to attack with three drones the Sergei Kotov and Vasily Bykov, patrol boats of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea,” the defense ministry said in a statement.

Illustrative: Russia’s Black Sea Fleet warships take part in the Navy Day celebrations in the port city of Novorossiysk on July 30, 2023. (STRINGER / AFP)

“The three naval enemy drones were destroyed,” it said, adding that the boats were attacked 340 kilometers (210 miles) southwest of Sevastopol, the base of Russia’s Black Sea fleet on the annexed Crimea peninsula.

Last week, Russia said it had repelled another drone attack on the Sergei Kotov patrol boat.

Hostilities around the Black Sea have escalated after Russia pulled out of an agreement that had allowed safe export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

‘War returning to Russia’

On Monday, a missile strike on a residential building killed six and wounded dozens in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih.

A day earlier, Zelensky had warned that war was coming to Russia.

“Gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia — to its symbolic centers and military bases, and this is an inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process,” Zelensky said Sunday.

Rescuers work outside a nine-story residential building partially destroyed as a result of Russian missiles strike in Kryvyi Rih on July 31, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Anatolii STEPANOV / AFP)

The Kremlin on Monday called the recent strikes on the capital an “act of desperation” by Ukraine following setbacks on the battlefield.

Ukraine began its long-awaited counteroffensive in June but has made modest advances in the face of stiff resistance from Russian forces on the frontline.