The Kremlin said on Monday it was stepping up Russia’s air defenses after a new wave of drone strikes inside the country and after Ukraine’s leader warned the war was “returning” home.
“Given the evolving situation, additional measures have been taken to improve defense against air and sea-based attacks,” said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told a military conference Monday.
His announcement came after the latest in a series of attempted drone strikes that Moscow has accused Kiev of carrying out to offset a struggling counteroffensive on the battlefield. Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials accused Russia of a deadly new attack on civilians in the heart of the country.
Russian officials said three Ukrainian drones targeting Moscow were shot down early Sunday, hours before a major military parade attended by President Vladimir Putin.
Images from a crash site in the capital showed the facade of a skyscraper damaged on one floor, with glass shattered and structural beams broken and deformed.
Kiev has stopped short of claiming responsibility for the drone strikes, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested on Sunday that this could mark a new chapter.
“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,” Zelenskyy said Sunday in his evening newspaper. video address.
The Moscow attack, which injured at least one person and resulted in the closure of the city’s airspace, followed a dramatic airstrike on the Russian capital earlier this summer.
Since then, a series of drone strikes have targeted strategic locations across the country, increasingly bringing the reality of war home to the Russian public.
Last week, a drone fell in the center of the capital near the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense, while another destroyed a couple of upper floors of another building.
“There is always something flying in Russia, including in Moscow,” Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said Sunday on Ukrainian national television. “No matter how badly the Russian authorities want to turn a blind eye to this and say they’ve shot everything down, something is still arriving.”
The Kremlin has largely played down the threat and tried to paint the assaults as a sign of desperation in Kiev. Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive has so far struggled to make a breakthrough, with Russia’s defensive lines largely holding.
“The attack shows the terrorist nature of the Kiev regime,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a call with reporters on Monday. “The counter-offensive does not go as planned, so Ukraine chooses to target civilian infrastructure. It’s disgusting,” he said.
Russia hit back on Monday with a missile attack on civilian buildings in central Ukraine, killing at least five, including a small child, and leaving others likely trapped under the rubble, Zelenskyy said.
The attacks hit sites including a university and a residential building in Kryvyi Rih, Zelenskyy’s hometown, officials said.
While Russia has denied targeting civilian infrastructure, aerial bombardments for months have targeted almost everything from hospitals to playgrounds to apartment blocks.
“In recent days, the enemy has been stubbornly attacking cities, urban centers, shelling civilian objects and homes,” Zelenskyy said Monday in a telegram post.