Drones fly deep into Russia; Putin orders border tightening

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Drones the Kremlin said were launched by Ukraine flew deep into Russian territory, including one within 100 kilometers (60 miles) of Moscow, marking Russian security breaches as President Vladimir Putin ordered heightened security. At the border.

Officials said drones There were no injuries and no significant damage, but the attacks Monday night and Tuesday morning raised questions about Russian security capabilities more than a year before a full-scale invasion of the country. of its neighbors.

Ukrainian officials did not immediately claim responsibility, but they avoided directly acknowledging responsibility for past strikes and sabotage while insisting on Ukraine’s right to strike any target in Russia.

Although Putin did not mention any specific attacks in a speech in the Russian capital, his comments came hours after drones targeted several areas in southern and western Russia. Authorities closed the airspace over St. Petersburg in response to what some reports said was a drone.

On Tuesday, several Russian television stations warned of a missile attack, which authorities blamed on a hacking attack.

According to local Russian officials, the drone strikes targeted the border with Ukraine and areas deep inside Russia.

The drone crashed near the village of Kubastovo, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Moscow, Andrei Vorobyov, the governor of the region surrounding the Russian capital, said in an online statement.

The drone did not cause any damage, Vorobyov said, but it may have targeted “a civilian infrastructure object.”

Pictures of the drone showed it to be a small Ukrainian model with a range of up to 800 kilometers (almost 500 miles), but no capacity to carry large amounts of explosives.

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Russian forces shot down another Ukrainian drone in the Bryansk region early Tuesday, local governor Alexander Bogomas said in a Telegram post.

Three drones targeted Russia’s Belgorod region on Monday night, with one flying through an apartment window in the capital, local officials said. Regional Governor Vyacheslav Kladkov said the drones caused minor damage to buildings and cars.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the drones were used to attack facilities in Ukraine’s Krasnodar region and neighboring Adygea. It said the drones were downed by electronic warfare assets, one of which crashed into a field and another was diverted from its flight path, missing the facility it was supposed to strike.

Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported a fire at an oil plant, and some Russian reports said two drones exploded nearby.

While Ukrainian drone strikes in the Russian border regions of Bryansk and Belgorod have become a regular occurrence, other strikes have reflected a more ambitious effort.

Some Russian commentators have described the drone strikes as an attempt to demonstrate its ability to strike deep behind Ukraine’s lines, stoking tensions in Russia and mobilizing the Ukrainian public. Some Russian war bloggers have described the tests as a rehearsal for a larger, more ambitious offensive.

Andriy Medvedev, a commentator on Russian state television who serves as deputy speaker of the Moscow city legislature and runs a popular blog about the war, warned that drone strikes could be a prelude to broader strikes inside Russia, including attempts by Ukraine. Counter attack.

“Attacks by drones that explode on targets behind our lines will be part of that offensive,” Medvedev said, adding that Ukraine may try to extend the range of its drones.

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Russia’s hawks insisted on a strong response. Igor Korodchenko, a retired Russian army colonel and military commentator, called for a punitive strike on the Ukrainian presidential office in Kyiv.

Viktor Alksnis, another retired military officer, noted that the drone strikes signaled an escalation of the conflict and criticized Putin for failing to mount a strong response.

On Tuesday, officials said the airspace around Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg, was temporarily closed, with all departures and arrivals suspended at the main airport, Pulkovo. Officials have not given a reason for the action, but some Russian reports say it was triggered by an unidentified drone.

Russian Defense Ministry says it is conducting air defense drills in western Russia.

Last year, Russian officials repeatedly announced that they had shot down Ukrainian drones linked to Crimea. In December, the Russian military said it had used Ukrainian drones to attack two bases for long-range bombers. Deep inside Russian territory.

Speaking at Russia’s main security agency, the FSB, Putin urged the service to tighten security on Ukraine’s border.

In another development that fueled tensions across Russia on Tuesday, an air raid alert interrupted the programming of several television channels and radio stations in several regions. Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said in an online statement that the announcement was a hoax “as a result of hacking into the servers of radio stations and television channels in some parts of the country.”

Meanwhile, satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press show a Russian fighter jet in Belarus, which Belarusian guerrillas say is largely intact.

High-resolution images from Planet Labs BBC and Maxar Technologies on Tuesday showed a Russian A-50 early warning and control plane carrying out what Belarusian opposition activists described as an attack on the Machulishchi air base outside the Belarusian capital Minsk on Sunday.

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However, the plane’s distinctive, circular rotodome was found to have a discoloration above its fuselage that could be damaged. Earlier pictures of the plane on the flight deck did not show that discoloration. The Maxer image also showed vehicles near the plane.

Belarusian activists supporting Ukraine blamed the plane for being heavily damaged. Russian and Belarusian officials have not commented on the claims.

In Ukraine, Russian shelling on the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson killed four people and wounded five others on Tuesday, regional governor Oleksandr Prokhudin said in a telegram.

A 68-year-old man was also killed when Russian forces shelled the town of Kubiansk in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, Governor Oleh Sinihubov said.

Fierce fighting continued in Ukraine’s eastern regions, where Russia wants to keep control of the four provinces illegally annexed in September.

Ukrainian officials said Russian forces had deployed additional troops and equipment to the areas, including the latest T-90 battle tanks.

In a video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked American businessmen for supporting Ukraine and expressed hope for their support in rebuilding the country after the war. Zelenskyy noted that the country faces an “enormous task” to restore hundreds of thousands of damaged sites, including “entire cities, industries, factories.”

___ Associated Press writer John Gambrell contributed to this report from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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