Ukraine denies responsibility for drone strike near Moscow
A drone that crashed near urban Moscow was probably targeting civilian infrastructure, according to the regional governor Andrei Vorobyov.
Russia’s defence ministry has also reported destroying two Ukrainian drones in Russia’s southwest.
If confirmed, the drone attack would be the closest Ukrainian forces had come to hitting Moscow since last year’s invasion.
“Soon Putin might get very afraid to show himself in public, as drones can reach far distances,” said Anton Gerashchenko of Ukraine’s interior minister.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for attacks inside Russia and some analysts say they are the work of Russian insurgents.
“Ukraine doesn’t strike at the Russian Federation’s territory. Ukraine is waging a defensive war to de-occupy all its territories,” tweeted Mykhailo Podolyak, a presidential adviser in Kyiv.
He opined that a drone so far from the Ukraine border showed “internal attacks” triggered by domestic unrest.
Podolyak tweeted that “panic and collapse” was on the rise in Russia, “manifested by increasing domestic attacks of unidentified flying objects on infrastructure sites”.
Russian state-run gas giant Gazprom has an installation near the village of Gubastovo, approximately 100km from Moscow, where the drone landed.
The Russian media said it was an UJ-22 Airborne, a strike drone with a 800km range manufactured by the Ukrainian firm Ukrjet. The FSB claimed it had been carrying Nato’s C4 explosive.
Gazprom said its operations were uninterrupted.
On February 26, two blasts were reported at a Belarusian airfield, damaging a key Russian weapon: one of nine A-50 aircraft that can locate Ukrainian air-defence teams. “Guerrilla fighters” within Belarus claimed responsibility.
On Monday, at least four drones crashed near a power station in the western Russian city of Belgorod around 40km from the border.
Blasts in August hit a military base in Crimea in an expansion of the conflict by Ukraine into the illegally occupied peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. Ukraine subsequently claimed responsibility for the Crimean attack.
Vladimir Putin told his FSB security service to increase activity against what he claimed was increasing espionage and sabotage by Ukraine and its western allies.
Putin said FSB operatives on the border must stop insurgents and weapons from entering Russia.
“We need to beef up our counterintelligence in general, because western special services have traditionally been very active in relation to Russia,” the dictator said.
“And now they have put in additional personnel, technical and other resources against us. We need to respond accordingly.”
Drones, in various forms, have been key in the Ukraine war. Picture credit: Wikipedia