2 Drone Strikes in Moscow in 2 Days and a Message: Russia Is Not Safe

by Pelican Press
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A building in central Moscow housing government ministries was struck by a drone Tuesday for the second time in 48 hours, as Ukrainian officials make it increasingly clear that they are not going to allow the war to be limited to their own soil.

“Moscow is rapidly getting used to a full-fledged war,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Mr. Zelensky, said pointedly in a tweet on Tuesday.

Moscow’s mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, said the drone had hit the 21st floor of a tower that was damaged in an earlier strike over the weekend. Two other drones were shot down on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia’s Defense Ministry said, while a third was reported downed in Sevastopol, in Russia-occupied Crimea.

Ukraine has been generally coy when it comes to attacks within Russia’s borders, but in recent days President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top officials have signaled that the strikes are part of Kyiv’s strategy. Video of the latest attacks strongly suggested that one of the drones was a Ukrainian-made long-range model identified by The New York Times.

Though Russia has been little scathed by the attacks, they have managed to reach deep into its territory, where they have struck targets both symbolic and military, and rattled some nerves.

On Tuesday, Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, said that “there is a clear threat” and that “measures are being taken” to improve defenses of the capital. At the same time, the Russian authorities have tried to play down the risk.

The glass-facade high-rise that was struck twice in recent days in Moscow houses the ministries of digital development, economy and industrial development, but the Defense Ministry said the drone had been electronically jammed and lost control before crashing into the building.

The drone attack on Moscow was at least the fourth attempt in just over a week. Over the weekend, Mr. Zelensky said that the war “is returning to the territory of Russia — to its symbolic centers and military bases,” and described that shift as “inevitable, natural and absolutely fair.”

The damage in Russia, of course, is miniscule compared to the devastation Moscow’s troops have inflicted in Ukraine. On Tuesday alone, a Russian missile hit a clinic in the southern city of Kherson, killing a newly graduated doctor on his first day of work, seriously wounding a nurse and injuring three other medical workers.

In Moscow, by contrast, it was unclear if anyone was injured in the drone attack the same day.

City residents were encouraged by government-controlled media to take the new chapter of their lives in stride, and many appeared to be doing just that.

Mirlan Yzakov, who owns an investment company with an office in the Moscow City tower complex that was hit this weekend, said that he had learned about the drone strike on the news and that it had not affected his business. His team continues to work from their offices, he said.

“This is the time of conflict, a conflict of interests, so this is a natural procedure,” Mr. Yzakov said in a phone interview. “We live in a difficult time.”

Some Russians have had trouble adjusting to the idea that they, too, may now be in the cross hairs, however remote the risk.

Maksim Khodyrev, a real estate agent who specializes in the Moscow City area, said that he had begun to receive letters from apartment tenants saying that “they can no longer feel themselves safe” and “are thinking about canceling lease agreements.”

The country’s nationalist bloggers have tried to portray the attacks as an act of desperation by Ukraine, aimed at creating media noise because the Ukrainian counteroffensive is sputtering.

“There is zero military damage,” Andrei Perla, a political commentator for Tzargrad, an ultranationalist television channel, wrote on Telegram on Sunday after the first attack. “But there is a psychological effect.”

Many Russians are just trying to push the bad news out of their minds, Aleksandr Kynev, a Russian political analyst, wrote on the same platform.

“People are consciously or unconsciously ignoring it,” he wrote. “They want to shut themselves from it, because they want to preserve their lives to be as normal as possible.”

Ivan Nechepurenko reported from Tbilisi, Georgia; Alina Lobzina from London, and Victoria Kim from Seoul. Matthew Mpoke Bigg contributed reporting from London.

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