TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Russian authorities accused Kyiv early Tuesday of yet another attack on Moscow and its surroundings with drones, one of which hit the same building in the capital that was damaged by a drone just days ago in a similar attack.
Russian officials have claimed that the intensified attacks on the capital region reflect failures in Ukraine‘s counteroffensive, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said over the weekend that “the war is gradually coming back to Russian territory,” but stopped short of taking responsibility for the attacks.
The repeated drone strikes underscore Moscow’s vulnerability as Russia’s war in Ukraine drags into its 18th month.
Overnight, Russian forces attacked Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, with Iranian-made Shahed drones, according to Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Syniehubov. One drone struck a three-story building at an educational institution in the Saltivka district, partially destroying the top two floors of the building, as well as the roof. No people were inside the building at the time of the attack.
Three more drone strikes hit the area of a sports complex in the Shevchenkivskyi district of Kharkiv. A two-story building in the complex was partially damaged, and a 63-year-old security guard was wounded, according to Syniehubov.
Russian forces shelled the city of Kherson on Tuesday morning and hit a medical facility, according to regional Gov. Roman Mrochko, killing a doctor and wounding one nurse.
In Russia, the Defense Ministry said that it shot down two Ukrainian drones outside Moscow early Tuesday and jammed another, sending it crashing into a skyscraper in the Moscow City business district and damaging the building’s facade.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the drone crashed into the same building that was damaged in a similar attack early Sunday. IQ-Quarter, located 7.2 kilometers (4.5 miles) from the Kremlin, houses a number of government agencies, including the headquarters of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Digital Development and Communications, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Sobyanin said the attack on Tuesday didn’t result in any casualties.
It wasn’t clear why the same building was hit twice in a row. In both incidents, the Russian military said the drones that hit the skyscraper were jammed before crashing.
Asked about how protected the Russian capital is, given that supposedly jammed drones hit the same building, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov redirected the question to the Defense Ministry, saying only that “the threat exists and measures are being taken.”
Sobyanin said the drone that struck the building Tuesday hit the 21st floor, one of the floors housing the Economic Development ministry. Photos from the site of the crash showed several panels of glass missing, exposing the charred insides of the building, and about a dozen more were damaged. According to the mayor, 150 square meters (about 1,600 square feet) of the building’s glass facade was damaged.
Russian news agency Interfax cited Darya Levchenko, an adviser to the economic development minister, as saying that the ministry’s staff was working from home on Tuesday, while damage to the office was being assessed.
Zelenskyy’s adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, tweeted that Moscow “is rapidly getting used to a full-fledged war, which, in turn, will soon move to the territory of the ‘authors of the war’ to collect all their debts,” without confirming or denying Kyiv‘s involvement in the attack.
The Russian military also said that Ukrainian forces tried to attack two of its warships in the Black Sea overnight, using maritime drones. Three drones targeted two patrol vessels, Sergei Kotov and Vasily Bykov, 340 kilometers (210 miles) southwest of the Russian-controlled city of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula, the Defense Ministry reported. All three drones were destroyed, the report said.
The attacks on Moscow and Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, follow a deadly Russian missile strike on Kryvyi Rih, a city in central Ukraine and Zelenskyy’s hometown. Monday’s strike partially destroyed a residential building and killed seven people, wounding dozens more.
Ukraine‘s presidential office reported Tuesday morning that at least 12 civilians had been killed in the country over the previous 24 hours, and 104 people injured.
The office reported that Monday’s attack on Kryvyi Rih killed seven people, including a 10-year-old girl, making it one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in recent weeks. Russian rockets struck a residential high-rise building and a university building in the attack, which also wounded 81 people, including seven children.
Hanna Arhirova in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Yuras Karmanau in Berlin, contributed to this report.