- Two wounded in Moscow, and one killed in the Kiev attacks
- Ukraine denies direct involvement
- Kiev suffered 17 air attacks in May
- Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency asks both sides to protect the Zaporizhia plant
MOSCOW/KIEV (Reuters) – Russia said Ukrainian drones struck wealthy districts of Moscow on Tuesday in what one politician called the most serious attack on the capital since World War Two, while Kiev was also bombed from the air for the third time. time within 24 hours.
Since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops to its neighbor in February 2022, the war has largely been fought inside Ukraine.
Air strikes have intensified on targets far from the front amid a stalemate on the ground as Russian forces entrench themselves along a line stretching into eastern and southern Ukraine.
One of the strategic southern sites that Russian forces have controlled almost since the beginning of the invasion is the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. On Tuesday, the head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency asked Ukraine and Russia to respect five principles for protecting the plant.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, has been trying for months to get an agreement to reduce the risk of a catastrophic nuclear accident from military activity such as the bombing of Zaporizhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Briefing the UN Security Council, Grossi said the five principles included not launching an attack on or from the factory, and not using it as a base for heavy weapons such as multiple rocket launchers, artillery and ammunition systems, and tanks.
In Moscow, the Defense Ministry said eight drones sent by Ukraine targeting civilians were shot down or diverted using electronic jamming devices, though Baza, a Telegram channel with links to the security services, said more than 25 were involved.
Mykhailo Podolak, Ukraine’s presidential aide, denied Kiev was directly involved but said “we are glad to see the events” and expected more such strikes.
Casualties and evacuation in Moscow
Two people were injured while some apartment complexes were briefly evacuated, according to Moscow’s mayor. Residents said they heard a loud bang, followed by the smell of petrol. Some filmed shooting down a drone and photographing a plume of smoke.
Early in the morning on Tuesday, a drone strike targeted some of Moscow’s most prestigious areas, including where Russian President Vladimir Putin and the elite reside. A spokesman said he later arrived at the Kremlin and was briefed about the attack.
Afterwards, Putin said that Ukraine’s largest drone attack on Moscow was an attempt to scare and provoke Russia, and that air defenses around the capital would be strengthened.
Putin said that Ukraine had chosen the path of trying to “terrorize Russia and Russian citizens and attacks on residential buildings”.
Civilian targets in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities have been repeatedly bombed since the early days of the war by Russian drones and missiles.
But Tuesday was only the second time Moscow came under direct fire. There was an apparent drone strike on the Kremlin earlier this month that Moscow blamed on Ukraine and said was intended to kill Putin.
The White House said it was still gathering information about reports of drone strikes in Moscow.
“We don’t support attacks inside Russia. That’s it. Period,” White House press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre told a news briefing. Washington is a major supplier of arms to Ukraine on the condition that it uses them to defend itself and restore Ukrainian lands occupied by Russian forces.
Russian deputy Maxim Ivanov called the attack the most serious attack on Moscow since the invasion of Nazi Germany in World War Two, saying no Russian could now avoid the “new reality”.
Russian state television provided quiet coverage of the attacks, and many Muscovites moved on with the fatalism they were known for. Most shrugged and many expressed sadness as the conflict seemed to be spreading.
Olga, who said she lives near the site of one of the drone collisions on Prosoyuznaya Street, described the strikes as “logical, expected… What else were we waiting for?”
Kyiv city scores 17 times with airstrikes in May
The war has killed tens of thousands of people in Ukraine, displaced millions, reduced cities to ruins, and disrupted the global economy.
Kiev said four people were killed across Ukraine in Russia’s latest attacks on Tuesday and 34 wounded, including two children.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces said that the Ukrainian air defense shot down 29 out of 31 Iranian-made Shahed drones in Kiev.
A 33-year-old woman died on her balcony when debris from a devastating Russian shell hit a hill in Kiev, officials said. Two upper floors were destroyed, with people possibly still under the rubble, and the upper part was engulfed in flames.
Russia attacked Kiev 17 times in May with drones or missiles, most of them at night.
Kiev promises to launch a counterattack backed by recently acquired Western weapons to try to drive out the Russian forces. Moscow describes the conflict as its “own military operation” to “discredit” Ukraine and protect Russian speakers.
The pro-Western Ukrainian government has said that Russia is carrying out imperial land grabs.
(This story has been paraphrased to add the title and name of Russian President Vladimir Putin in paragraph 10)
(Reporting by Jay Faulconbridge, Max Honder, Olina Harmash, Pavel Politiuk, Valentin Ogirienko, Gleb Garanich, Lydia Kelly, Trevor Hunnicott and Steve Holland; Writing by Andrew Cawthorn, Mark Heinrichs and Grant McCall; Editing by Michael Berry, Giles Elgood, Allison Williams and Richard Chang
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