Russian officials accuse Ukraine of launching several attack drones over its territory.
Russian officials accused Ukraine on Tuesday of deploying attack drones over Russian territory, a salvo that highlights Russia’s vulnerability within its borders.
The attacks, as described by Russian officials, pierced a vast swath of Russian airspace, from Krasnodar in the country’s south to within about 60 miles of Moscow, the capital, in the west, on Monday night and Tuesday morning. The Ukrainian government publicly follows a policy of deliberate ambiguity about strikes on Russian territory.
Andrei Vorobyov, the governor of the Moscow region, said on the social messaging platform Telegram that a drone crashed near the village of Gubastovo, about 60 miles from Moscow and 280 miles from the country’s border with Ukraine. Mr. Vorobyov did not specify that the drone was Ukrainian, but he said that the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B. — Russia’s military and primary security service — had responded to the site of the crash.
Aleksandr Bogomaz, the governor of Bryansk region, said on Telegram on Tuesday that, in another incident, Russian forces shot down a Ukrainian drone over the Surazhsky district, about 50 miles from the border with Ukraine. He added that the drone did not appear to cause any damage.
Russia’s ministry of defense said that Ukraine also sent two drones overnight to attack civilian infrastructure in Krasnodar and in Adygea, in the Western Caucasus, and that neither caused harm. The areas lie east of the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014. President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine wants to reclaim its territory.
Just hours after Russia reported suspected Ukrainian drones being downed on its territory, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia made his annual speech to the F.S.B. — a successor agency to the K.G.B., in which he served as an officer. In the speech, he suggested that the security service be increasingly vigilant against sabotage and espionage being carried out by both Ukraine and Western nations.
“Your mission is to prevent any incursions by sabotage groups and stop any attempts to smuggle weapons and ammunition into Russia,” Mr. Putin said.
For nearly a year, local officials in Russia have accused Ukraine of using drones and missiles to strike oil depots and other infrastructure on its soil as well as airfields. Ukraine has not publicly acknowledged conducting any cross-border attacks, but the salvos intensified in December, when drones struck two military airports in Russia. A drone also hit an oil facility near an airfield in the Russian province of Kursk.
Those attacks appeared to come in response to Russian missile strikes and drone attacks in October that aimed to cripple Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Russian missile and rocket strikes have also killed thousands of Ukrainian civilians.
On Tuesday, the city government in St. Petersburg said that the airspace around Pulkovo Airport had closed temporarily, without giving a reason. A separate ministry of defense statement said that employees had continued to work normally, and that its air defense forces had been conducting exercises in Russia’s western zone, which is closest to the Ukrainian border, on “detecting, intercepting and identifying” intruders in Russian airspace. It was unclear whether the exercise was related to the closure of the airport.
Russia has also experienced a series of high-profile attacks on its infrastructure, which have embarrassed the Kremlin and punctured the country’s aura of military superiority. In October, an explosion damaged a bridge connecting Russia with Crimea, while in April, a Ukrainian missile sank the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva.
Drones might not be the only form of electronic warfare available to Ukraine. The defense ministry in Moscow said on Tuesday that hackers had disrupted the services of radio and television stations in some regions of Russia to broadcast an air raid alert. The ministry of emergency situations said that the alert information was false.
Local authorities in Russian regions bordering Ukraine have said they face frequent fire by Ukrainian forces. Ukraine, for its part, says that Russian forces regularly shell the border provinces of Sumy and Chernihiv.
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