Moscow accuses Ukraine of multiple attempted drone attacks on Russian territory


(CNN) — Russia’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday accused Ukraine of launching a series of attempted drone strikes against infrastructure inside Russia, including near the capital Moscow. The allegations came after a fire broke out at an oil depot and authorities abruptly closed airspace over the country’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg.

Moscow Region Governor Andrey Vorobyov said a Ukrainian drone had crashed near the town of Gubastovo, southeast of the capital. The drone was apparently aimed at what he called “civilian infrastructure”, which was later confirmed to be a gas facility operated by the state-owned company Gazprom.

The facility remained intact, state media reported, citing the region’s energy ministry.

Russian state media later published a photograph of what they said was the crashed device, which appeared to resemble a Ukrainian-made UJ-22 attack drone.

The UJ-22 is relatively small and versatile, capable of flying in bad weather and traveling a distance of up to 800 kilometers. It is unclear where or when the photo of the crashed drone was taken.

Ukraine destroys building from where Russian drone attacks came 2:10

The accident was allegedly one of several attempted attacks; Russian state media reported that a drone was shot down near the Belarusian border and the Russian Defense Ministry said two more attacks were thwarted using drone-jamming technology in the Krasnodar and Adygea regions.

“Both drones lost control and deviated from their flight path,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement. “A UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) went down in a field, and another UAV, which deviated from the trajectory, did not damage the attacked civilian infrastructure facility.”

At least one drone appeared to have evaded Russian defenses. Images posted on social media overnight and geolocated by CNN show a fire at the Rosneft energy company’s oil depot in Tuapse, on Krasnodar’s Black Sea coast.

It is unclear if the facility was the intended target, but Ukraine has targeted previously oil deposits within the territory controlled by Russia.

CNN cannot independently confirm the claims of each alleged attack, and Ukraine did not immediately comment on the incident. Ukraine has previously refused to comment on the attacks inside Russia.

Following the alleged attacks, Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg, closed its airspace on Tuesday within a 200-kilometer radius, briefly banning incoming flights, according to state media.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had been briefed on the closures, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to discuss whether it was related to the “incidents in St. Petersburg and Tuapse,” state media reported.

Drone video: the landscape in Bakhmut looks apocalyptic 0:54

Attacks on Russian infrastructure

Attacks on Russian infrastructure have focused attention on Ukraine’s efforts to develop longer-range combat drones.

In early December, Russia reported multiple Ukrainian drone strikes against military infrastructure, including air bases that are hundreds of kilometers inside Russian territory and beyond the reach of the drone arsenal declared by Ukraine.

Around the same time, Ukraine’s state arms manufacturer, Ukroboronprom, indicated it was close to finishing work on a new long-range drone, although there is no public indication that such a device was ready for deployment or was involved. in explosions inside Russia.

Ukraine’s defense ministry offered no comment at the time on the attacks, although a presidential aide tweeted a cryptic message hinting at the possibility that Kyiv was actually behind the December attacks.

“The Earth is round – discovery made by Galileo. Astronomy was not studied in the Kremlin, giving preference to court astrologers. If it was, they would know: if something is launched into the airspace of other countries, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to square one, ”he said at the time.

— CNN’s Vasco Cotovio, Uliana Pavlova and Anna Chernova contributed to this report.


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