TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Russian authorities early Tuesday accused Kyiv of yet another attack on Moscow and its surroundings with drones, one of which hit a building in the capital that was damaged by a drone just days ago in a similar attack early Sunday.
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 of 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 on the complex was partially damaged, and a 63-year-old security guard was injured, according to Syniehubov.
Tuesday morning, Russian forces shelled Kherson region and hit a medical facility, according to Regional Governor Roman Mrochko, killing a doctor and injuring one nurse.
In Russia, the Defense Ministry said in the early hours of Tuesday that it it shot down two Ukrainian drones outside Moscow 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 kms (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 Tuesday attack 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.
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 charred insides of the building, and about a dozen more damaged. According to the mayor, 150 square meters of the building’s glass facade was damaged.
Russian news agency Interfax cited Darya Levchenko, an advisor 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 advisor 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 Kyiv’s 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 southwest of the Russian-controlled city of Sevastopol on the annexed 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 country over the previous 24 hours, and 104 people were 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.
Associated Press writers Hanna Arhirova in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Yuras Karmanau in Berlin contributed.