Moscow Drone Attack: What We Know

Moscow came under a drone attack early Tuesday, according to Russian officials, the first strike to hit civilian areas in the capital and another sign that the war in Ukraine is increasingly touching the heart of Russia.

Here is what we know about the attack.

Explosions were reported in Moscow early on Tuesday morning, with Russia’s Defense Ministry saying that at least eight drones had targeted the capital and the surrounding region.

All of the drones were intercepted, the ministry said in a statement, saying that electronic jamming measures forced some to deviate from intended targets and that others had been shot down outside the city limits by air defenses. It did not specify what the targets may have been.

Three residential buildings in Moscow were damaged by drones after they were intercepted, according to the office of the Russian prosecutor general. Some residents were briefly evacuated early Tuesday, said Sergei Sobyanin, the city’s mayor.

Mr. Sobyanin said in a post on the Telegram messaging app that two people required medical attention but that no one was seriously injured.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense blamed the Ukrainian government for what it described as a “terrorist attack.”

A spokesman for Ukraine’s Air Force, which typically maintains a policy of strategic ambiguity about any strikes on Russian territory, declined to comment on the attack. But Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, said Kyiv was not “directly involved” in the drone assault on Moscow, though was “happy” to watch.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, the country’s equivalent to the F.B.I., said it had started an inquiry into the attack.

The intended target of the drone attack was not immediately clear. Video verified by The New York Times shows a 25-story residential building on the southwestern outskirts of Moscow lightly scorched on the exterior. The wreckage of a drone wing is shown just outside the building.

Other videos verified by The Times were filmed eight miles away, outside a building where Russian news media reported that a drone had flown inside. The footage shows two apparent drone wings outside the residential building.

In additional video footage, a third building, also reported to have been hit by a drone, has a broken window. All three residential buildings in the videos are along the southwestern outskirts of Moscow in upper-middle-class areas of the city.

Moscow is about 310 miles from the border with Ukraine, and the attack on Tuesday was the first time that drones have hit residential areas of the city since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this month, there were nighttime explosions over the Kremlin, which Russia said were a drone attack and an assassination attempt on President Vladimir V. Putin. On the day of the blasts, Mr. Zelensky publicly denied responsibility, asserting that Ukraine fights on its own territory. U.S. intelligence officials said that one of Ukraine’s special military or intelligence units most likely orchestrated the attack, adding that they had “low” confidence that the Ukrainian government had directly authorized it.

American officials have in the past voiced concern that Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil could provoke Mr. Putin without having a direct effect on the battlefield — one reason that Washington has withheld from Ukraine weapons that could be used to strike deep into Russia.

The reality of the war in Ukraine has largely been perceived as distant for much of the Russian public, but the attacks on Moscow could change that and possibly even threaten overall support for Mr. Putin’s handling of what the Kremlin has called the “special military operation.”

One worry is that attacks in Russia could serve as a pretext for Mr. Putin to escalate the war in some way, such as striking key government buildings in Kyiv and trying to decapitate the Ukrainian government.

The Kremlin’s reaction to Tuesday’s drone attack was muted. Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, told reporters that the Defense Ministry “acted well” in responding to the attack, but declined to comment further. Mr. Putin briefly commented on the attack, telling a reporter that Russia’s air defenses had proved adequate. “We have stuff to do,” he said in a video clip published by state news media. “We know what needs to be done.”

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