Two Ukrainian combat drones headed for Moscow were shot down, Russian officials said on Wednesday, in the latest wave of attacks targeting the capital.
A separate explosion at a warehouse just outside the city left one dead and injured more than 50 people, according to officials, sending a plume of smoke into the air.
Spared during the early phase of the conflict, Moscow and its environs have seen a growing number of strikes in recent months.
“Two combat drones’ attempt to fly into the city was recorded. Both were shot down by air defence,” Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Telegram.
One drone was downed in the Domodedovo area on the southern outskirts of the city, while the second was shot down in the Minsk highway area, west of the capital.
The strikes are at least the third attack near Moscow within a week. On Sunday, Russia said it downed Ukrainian drones on Sunday, in the Podolsky district on the capital’s outskirts and again on Monday, in the Kaluga region, further from the capital to the southwest.
On July 30, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that “war” was coming to Russia, with the country’s “symbolic centres and military bases” becoming targets.
An office block used by Russian government ministries in Moscow’s main business district was recently hit twice, with Russian officials saying the damage came from downed Ukrainian drones.
– Warehouse blast –
Wednesday’s explosion struck the grounds of an optical equipment factory rocked the town of Sergiyev Posad, some 35 miles (56 km) north-east of Moscow.
“One of the victims has passed away. Doctors are fighting for the lives of five others. They have extensive body burns,” the state-run TASS news agency quoted a source in a local hospital as saying.
Governor Andrey Vorobyov said over fifty people sought medical help and that some people may still be under the rubble.
Video shared by state media showed a ball of flames burst on the horizon, followed by a shockwave that blew out windows in some nearby buildings.
In Donetsk, shelling killed a woman and a young girl, while another two were injured, the city’s Moscow-appointed mayor Alexei Kulemzin said on Telegram.
Meanwhile, the head of Russia’s southern Belgorod region said one person had been killed and four others were injured by Ukrainian shelling on a town near the border.
The Moscow strike came a day after Russia claimed it had hit a Ukrainian army command post in a missile strike on the eastern city of Pokrovsk.
Two missiles — launched 40 minutes apart — damaged residential buildings, a hotel, сafes, shops and administrative buildings in the town and left at least nine dead, officials said.
– ‘High intensity’ –
Pokrovsk sits just 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the eastern frontline, where Ukrainian troops are pushing to break the Russian lines.
Ukraine began its long-awaited counteroffensive in June but has made modest advances to the east and south in the face of stiff resistance from Russian forces on the frontline.
Meanwhile, Russia has launched its own offensive around the city of Kupiansk in northeast Ukraine.
The city and its surrounding areas were liberated by Ukrainian forces last September, but Moscow has since renewed its assault on the region.
“The intensity of hostilities and enemy shelling is high” in the zone, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Ganna Malyar said Wednesday.
Beyond the conflict in Ukraine, Moscow accused Poland and Finland of threatening its security and vowed a response to the multiplication of “threats” to Russia’s western frontier.
Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, has joined the US-led NATO alliance, while Poland has strengthened security on its border with Moscow’s close ally Belarus.
“Threats to the military security of the Russian Federation have multiplied in the western and northwestern strategic directions,” Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting with military officials.
Those risks “require a timely and adequate response,” he added.