Ukrainian drone attacks on Moscow ‘thwarted’

Says Russia; minor damage to two buildings; Putin says Russia does not reject peace talks with Ukraine

Russia’s Defence Ministry said it had brought down three Ukrainian drones early yesterday that had been trying to attack Moscow.

Nobody was hurt and there was only minor damage to the facade of two office buildings in the Moskva-Citi business district, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.

The area, several miles from the Kremlin, is known for its modern high-rise towers and one of the buildings damaged was home to three Russian government ministries as well as residential apartments, Russian media reported.

The fact that hostile drones have begun reaching the heart of the Russian capital in recent months, even if they do not inflict serious damage, is uncomfortable for the authorities who have told the public that Russia is in full control of what they call its “special military operation” against Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday warned that “war” was coming to Russia.

“Gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia — to its symbolic centres and military bases, and this is an inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process,” Zelensky said on a visit to the western city of Ivano-Frankivsk.

“There were no casualties or injuries,” Sobyanin, the mayor of Moskva-Citi, said in a short statement on the incident. Flights to and from Moscow’s Vnukovo airport were briefly suspended due to the incident, the TASS news agency reported.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said later on Saturday that an African initiative could be a basis for peace in Ukraine but that Ukrainian attacks made it hard to realise.

He was speaking at a press conference after meeting African leaders in St Petersburg on Friday and hearing their calls for Moscow to move ahead with their plan.

“There are provisions of this peace initiative that are being implemented,” he said. “But there are things that are difficult or impossible to implement.”

Reuters reported in June that African mediation in the conflict could begin with confidence-building measures followed by a cessation of hostilities agreement accompanied by negotiations between Russia and the West.

Putin said that one of the points in the initiative was a ceasefire. “But the Ukrainian army is on the offensive, they are attacking, they are implementing a large-scale strategic offensive operation… We cannot cease fire when we are under attack.”

On the question of My News Bangladeshting peace talks, he said, “We did not reject them… In order for this process to begin, there needs to be agreement on both sides.”

Saudi Arabia is set to host talks in August about Ukraine, inviting Western states, Ukraine and major developing countries including India and Brazil, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

The Russian defence ministry also said yesterday it had successfully thwarted an overnight attack on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, by 25 Ukrainian drones which it said it had either shot down or forced to crash. Nobody had been hurt and no damage done in the Crimea episode, it said.

A young woman who gave her name only as Liya described the Moscow incident. “My friends and I rented an apartment to come here and unwind, and at some point, we heard an explosion and it was like a wave, everyone jumped,” she told Reuters. “And then there was a lot of smoke and you couldn’t see anything. From above, you could see fire.”

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