Moscow said Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian territory would “not be possible” without US and NATO help, ratcheting up its rhetoric after reporting it had downed five drones near the capital on Tuesday.
Ukraine meanwhile said 43 people, including 12 children, were injured in a Russian strike on the town of Pervomaisky in the eastern Kharkiv region.
Moscow accused the West of enabling Ukraine to carry out the drone attacks, after earlier condemning what it called a “terrorist act”.
“These attacks would not be possible without the help provided to the Kyiv regime by the US and its NATO allies,” the Russian foreign ministry said, claiming the West was “training drone operators and providing the necessary intelligence to commit such crimes.”
It marks the latest in a series of recent drone attacks — including on the Kremlin and Russian towns near the border with Ukraine — that Moscow has blamed on Kyiv.
The Russian military said it had downed all five drones and that there was no damage or casualties from the early-morning attacks.
Four were destroyed by anti-air defence systems while a fifth was stopped by “electronic means,” it said.
Emergency services cited by the state-run RIA Novosti news agency said one of the drones was “neutralised” at Kubinka, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Vnukovo international airport, where air traffic was briefly disrupted.
“An attempt by the Kyiv regime to attack a zone where civil infrastructure is located, including an airport that receives international flights, is a new terrorist act,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said earlier on social media.
Burning, overturned cars
Drone attacks have hit Russian cities throughout Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, but have intensified in recent months.
Moscow and the surrounding area, around 500 kilometres (300 miles) from the Ukrainian border, have up to now rarely been targeted.
In early May, two drones were shot down above the Kremlin, and later the same month drones hit Moscow high-rises.
Kyiv said early Tuesday that Russia had launched 22 Iranian “Shahed” attack drones and three missiles at the Sumy, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions.
Its forces had “destroyed” 16 of the drones, it said.
The strike in the eastern Kharkiv region bordering Russia hit a parking lot outside a residential building in Pervomaisky, a town of around 28,000 people.
The head of Kyiv’s presidential office Andriy Yermak distributed images of burned and destroyed cars.
The governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleg Synegubov, posted a video from the scene, showing smoke rising from burnt cars near a Soviet-era housing block.
He said 43 people were injured, among them 12 children.
‘Tragic’ Kherson shelling
Authorities announced that Russian shelling on a residential area in the southern frontline city of Kherson had killed two people.
“Today began with tragic news for the Kherson region. A Russian artillery strike ended the lives of two civilians in Kherson,” Oleksandr Prokudin, the head of the Kherson region’s military administration said on social media.
The drone attacks on Moscow come several weeks into a Ukrainian counter-offensive to claw back territory captured by Moscow since large-scale hostilities erupted last February.
The Institute for the Study of War, a US-based military observatory group, said Tuesday that Ukrainian forces had won limited gains during recent fighting.
In Chechnya, an award-winning Russian investigative journalist was in hospital after being badly beaten by armed assailants, human rights groups and her media outlet said.
The attack happened early on Tuesday as Elena Milashina and Alexander Nemov, a lawyer, were travelling from the airport.
“Elena Milashina’s fingers have been broken and she is sometimes losing consciousness. She has bruises all over her body,” the Memorial human rights group said on social media.
It said the pair were “savagely kicked, including in the face, received death threats and were threatened with a gun to the head. Their equipment was taken away and smashed.”
Milashina has for years covered rights abuses in Chechnya for Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s top independent publication.
Novaya Gazeta said she was in Grozny to attend the sentencing of Zarema Musayeva, the mother of three exiles critical of Chechnya’s strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
In Kyiv, around 200 people attended a ceremony on Tuesday in St Michael’s cathedral for the Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina, who died of her wounds in a Russian strike on a restaurant in eastern Ukraine.