Putin orders tightening of Ukraine border as drones hit Russia
One drone crashed 100 km from Moscow on Tuesday, according to the regional governor.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered officials to tighten control of the border with Ukraine after a spate of drone attacks that are creating a new challenge for Moscow a year after it invaded its neighbour.
One drone crashed on Tuesday just 100km (60 miles) southeast of the Russian capital Moscow, while two more were brought down in southern Russia, according to the defence ministry.
Authorities also closed the airspace over the northern city of St Petersburg in response to what some reports said was a drone, while several Russian television stations aired a missile attack warning that officials blamed on hacking.
There were no reports of casualties.
“As for the incident with the crash of a UAV in district of Kolomna… the target was probably a civilian infrastructure facility, which was not damaged,” Moscow regional governor Andrei Vorobyov said in a statement, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles.
“There are no casualties or damage on the ground. The FSB (security services) and other competent authorities are investigating,” Vorobyov added.
Authorities have not specified what infrastructure may have been targeted, but Russian energy giant Gazprom operates a facility near the village of Gubastovo, where the drone crashed.
Ukrainian officials have not claimed responsibility for any of the attacks, but they have similarly avoided directly acknowledging responsibility for previous strikes and sabotage.
No drone damage
Pictures of the drone showed it was a Ukrainian-made type. It reportedly has a range of up to 800km (nearly 500 miles) but is not capable of carrying a large load of explosives.
Russian forces early on Tuesday shot down a Ukrainian drone over the southwestern region of Bryansk, Governor Aleksandr Bogomaz said in a Telegram post. He said there were no casualties in the incident, which took place not far from the Ukrainian and Belarusian borders.
Local authorities reported that three drones also targeted Russia’s Belgorod region on Ukraine’s border on Monday night with one flying through an apartment window in its capital, also called Belgorod, which is about 80km (50 miles) north of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said the drones caused minor damage to buildings and cars but no casualties.
The Russian Ministry of Defence said Ukraine used drones to attack facilities in the southern region of Krasnodar and neighbouring Adygea. It said the drones were brought down by electronic warfare assets, adding that one crashed into a field while the other diverted from its designated flight path and missed an infrastructure facility it was supposed to attack.
Moscow has accused Ukraine of being behind several drone attacks on Russian military infrastructure inside the country, including on the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, and in Belgorod.
Russia said in December that it shot down several drones near Engels, a base for strategic Russian aircraft located hundreds of kilometres from Ukraine’s border.
Pictures in January appeared to show Pantsir defence systems installed on the Russian defence ministry and one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s residences, but the Kremlin refused to comment.