Ukraine combat drone damages building in central Moscow, Russia says

Moscow’s mayor says Ukrainian drone shot down by air defence and debris falls on city’s Expo Center causing damage.

Investigators work near a damaged roof following a reported Ukrainian drone shot down in Moscow, Russia, August 18, 2023. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
Russian investigators inspect damage to a building following the shooting down of a Ukrainian drone over Moscow, Russia, on August 18, 2023 [Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters]

A Ukrainian military drone crashed into a Moscow city building after it was shot down by air defence systems in the latest attack on the Russian capital by unmanned aerial vehicles.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app that air defence systems had shot down a drone early on Friday morning and debris had fallen on buildings in the city’s Expo Center complex.

The Expo Center – a large event space used for major exhibitions and conferences – is located less than 5km (3.1 miles) from the Kremlin.

A video published by Russian media outlets showed thick smoke rising next to skyscrapers in the city.

The Russian defence ministry said that Ukraine launched the drone attack at about 4am local time (01:00 GMT) “using an unmanned aerial vehicle against objects located in Moscow and the Moscow region”.

“The UAV, after being exposed to air defence weapons, changed its flight path and fell on a nonresidential building in the Krasnopresnenskaya embankment area of Moscow,” the ministry said on Telegram.

Moscow’s mayor said emergency services were on the scene, but that early reports indicated there were no casualties.

“The wreckage of the UAV fell in the area of the Expo Center, and did not cause significant damage to the building,” Sobyanin said on Telegram.

State-run news agency TASS reported that one of the walls of the Expo Center’s pavilion had partially collapsed, citing emergency services.

“The area of the collapse is about 30 square metres [323sq feet],” emergency services told TASS.

The Expo Centre, on the Krasnopresnenskaya embankment of the Moskva River, hosts regular exhibitions and trade shows, according to its website. The venue is 100 metres (328 feet) from Moscow-City, an office block in the capital’s main business district that was struck twice within days by debris from downed drone strikes this month.

Damage to an office building in Moscow-City following a reported Ukrainian drone attack on the Russian capital on July 30, 2023 [Reuters]

TASS also reported that the airspace near Moscow’s international airport of Vnukovo was briefly closed, with departures and arrivals delayed, citing the aviation service.

Moscow and its surrounding areas have come under frequent drone attacks in recent weeks, including two drone attacks that were repelled over Moscow’s financial district, with each causing minor damage to the facades of high-rise buildings. In May, drones were shot down near the Kremlin.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned last month that “war” was coming to Russia, with the country’s “symbolic centres and military bases” now targets of Kyiv.

Russia’s defence ministry also said that it thwarted a Ukrainian marine drone attack on its warships in the Black Sea on Thursday night.

Ukrainian forces had attempted to attack ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet at 10:55pm local time (19:55 GMT) with an “unmanned sea boat” while the ships were operating in the southwestern part of the Black Sea 237km (147 miles) southwest of Sevastopol, the TASS news agency reported, citing the defence ministry.

Sevastopol is the base of Russia’s Black Sea fleet on the Moscow-annexed Crimean peninsula.

The ministry said the sea-borne drone was destroyed by the Pytlivyi frigate and the Vasily Bykov patrol ship before it could reach its target.

Russian warships also repelled a Ukrainian sea drone attack on Russia’s Novorossiysk naval base on August 4, the news agency reported.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies