Moscow was targeted on Tuesday morning by a swarm of drones in an unprecedented attack on the Russian capital.

What was the damage?

According to Russian officials, two people lightly injured and some buildings suffered “minor” damage.

Two residential buildings that were hit are located in the affluent south-western part of the Russian capital and near the city centre, with one close to a popular park. A senior Russian lawmaker said three drones had been downed over the capital’s exclusive Rublyovka suburb where President Putin has an official home.

The Russian defence ministry said that eight drones were used in the attack adding that “all the enemy drones” were either downed or disabled. Other sources claimed as many as 25 drones were used in the attack.

Who was behind the attack?

Kyiv has issued a denial of sorts, with Mikhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the President’s office, saying on Tuesday morning Ukraine “has no direct relationship with drone attacks on Moscow.” 

He added: “We are happy to watch and predict an increase in the number of attacks.”

Podolyak also gave a tongue-in-cheek answer as to what may be behind the attack, saying: “You know, we are entering the era of artificial intelligence. Perhaps not all drones are ready to attack Ukraine and want to return to their creators.”

Inform Napalm, an international volunteer collective behind a number of info operations against Russia, claimed the drones were Chinese-made and flew in from the eastern part of Moscow, though this information has yet to be confirmed.

What does “no direct relationship” mean?

That’s unclear at this stage, though the attack came just hours after the Head of Ukrainian Defence Intelligence, Kirill Budanov, published a video in which he promised a swift “response” to the Russian missile and drone attacks which bombarded Kyiv in recent days.

“All those in the Russian Federation who still believe, believe and maybe dream that they can intimidate Ukraine, I want to upset you a little bit – this is not true,” he said in the video posted on Monday evening.

“Everyone has been and is still at their jobs and continues to do their work. All those who tried to intimidate us, dreaming that it would have some effect, you will regret it very soon. 

Budanov said: “our response will not delay,” adding: “Wait, everyone will see everything soon.”

What has Russia said?

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that the attack on Moscow was a “response” by Kyiv to a recent Russian hit in Ukraine.

“It is completely clear that we are talking about response acts by the Kyiv regime to very effective strikes on a command centre (in Ukraine),” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, without clarifying where the Russian strike took place.

Earlier, the Russian defense ministry accused Kyiv of conducting a “terrorist attack”.

“This morning the Kyiv regime carried out a terrorist attack with drones on targets in the city of Moscow. Eight drones were used in the attack. All of the enemy drones were downed,” the ministry said on social media. 

Isn’t that a bit ironic?

It certainly is – last night Russia launched yet another massive drone attack against Kyiv, the 18th aerial attack on Ukraine’s capital just this month.

It comes after the sustained mass bombing campaign of Ukrainian cities over the winter during which the Kremlin launched wave after wave of missiles and drones at civilian infrastructure.

How will Russia respond?

At the moment that’s unclear – Russia has already massively escalated its attacks against Ukraine over recent weeks, particularly those targeting Kyiv.

The Ukrainian capital has been subject to aerial assault nearly every other night during May, with the latest three attacks happening within a 24-hour period.

But the drone attack on Moscow will be seen as a psychological blow and a major embarrassment for the Kremlin which has gone to great lengths to say the protracted conflict does not pose a threat to Russians.

Later on Tuesday afternoon, Putin appeared to shrug off the attack, saying that Moscow’s air defence had worked well during an unprecedented drone attack on the capital.

“Moscow’s air defense system worked normally, satisfactorily, although there is some work to do,” he said on Russian television.

He claimed that Ukraine was trying to “frighten” Russians. “We have spoken about hitting command centres (in Ukraine). In response, the Kyiv regime has chosen a different path, the path of trying to frighten Russia, frighten the citizens of Russia and of strikes on residential buildings,” Putin said.

Other Russian officials have been far more vocal. Russian lawmaker Maxim Ivanov said it was the most serious assault on Moscow since Nazi attacks during World War Two, and no citizen could now avoid what he called “the new reality”.

“You will either defeat the enemy as a single fist with our Motherland, or the indelible shame of cowardice, collaboration and betrayal will engulf your family,” he said.

Chris York


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