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Moscow accuses Ukraine of several attempted drone strikes deep in Russian territory



Russia’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday accused Ukraine of launching a series of attempted drone strikes targeting infrastructure deep in Russia, including near the capital, after a fire broke out at an oil depot and authorities abruptly closed the airspace over the country’s second-largest city.

Moscow Region Governor Andrey Vorobyov said a Ukrainian drone crashed near the village of Gubastovo, southeast of the capital. The drone was apparently targeting what he called “civilian infrastructure”, later confirmed to be a gas facility operated by state-owned Gazprom.

The facility remained intact, state media reported, citing the region’s Department of Energy.

State media later released a photo of what they said was the crashed aircraft, which appeared to resemble a Ukrainian-made UJ-22 attack drone.

The UJ-22 is relatively small and versatile, able to fly in bad weather and fly up to 800 kilometers. It is not known where or when the photo of the crashed drone was taken.

The crash was reportedly one of several attempted strikes, with state media reporting that a drone was shot down near the Belarusian border and the Defense Ministry claiming that two other strikes were thwarted thanks to the use of drone jamming technology in the Krasnodar and Adygea regions.

“Both drones lost control and deviated from their flight path,” the Department of Defense said in a statement. “A UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) fell in a field, and another UAV, deviating from the trajectory, did not damage the civilian infrastructure under attack.”

At least one drone appears to have escaped Russian defences, with footage posted to social media overnight and geotagged by CNN showing a fire at energy company Rosneft’s oil depot in Tuapse on Krasnodar’s Black Sea coast .

It is unclear whether the facility was the intended target, but Ukraine has previously targeted oil depots in Russian-held territory.

CNN is unable to independently confirm the claims of each alleged attack, and Ukraine did not immediately comment on the incident. Ukraine has previously declined to comment on attacks inside Russia.

Following the alleged attacks, Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg, closed its airspace within a 200-kilometre (124-mile) radius on Tuesday, briefly banning inbound flights, according to state media.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had been told of the closures – but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to say whether it was related to the “St Petersburg and Tuapse incidents”, state media reported.

Attacks targeting Russian infrastructure have drawn attention to Ukraine’s efforts to develop longer-range combat drones.

In early December, Russia reported multiple Ukrainian drone attacks targeting military infrastructure, including airbases located hundreds of kilometers inside Russian territory and beyond the range of Ukraine’s declared drone arsenal. Ukraine.

Around the same time, Ukrainian state arms manufacturer Ukroboronprom indicated that it was close to completing work on a new long-range drone – although there is no public indication that such a device was prepared for deployment or was involved in explosions inside Russia. .

At the time, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry had no comment on the strikes – although a presidential adviser tweeted a cryptic message hinting at the possibility that Kiev was indeed behind the December attacks.

“The Earth is round – discovery made by Galileo. Astronomy was not studied in the Kremlin, giving preference to court astrologers. If so, they would know: if something is thrown into the airspace of other countries, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to the starting point,” he said at the time.

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