Drone attacks on Moscow and Crimea battered buildings Monday and drew warnings of “tough retaliatory measures” from the Kremlin as the war dragged into its 18th month with little hope of a quick resolution.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said no injuries or serious destruction were reported, but photos from the scene showed a high-rise business center with burned-out top floors and a street-level store with its windows blown out. Russian media said one of the drones fell on the Komsomolsky highway in downtown Moscow, shattering the shops windows and damaging the roof of a house 200 yards from the Defense Ministry building.
Thick smoke was seen pouring out of the upper floors of the business center immediately after the pre-dawn strike, state media site Pravda reported.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the attack was thwarted by electronic warfare systems that forced the drones to crash. The Ukraine military did not publicly take responsibility for the attack, but a Ukraine defense official who declined to be named told Agence France-Presse the strike was a “special operation” carried out by Kyiv forces. Moscow is less than 300 miles from the Ukraine border.
Another drone struck an ammunition depot in Russian-annexed Crimea, forcing a halt in traffic on a major highway, Russian authorities said. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described the attacks as “acts of international terrorism.” Russia has repeatedly struck energy and residential targets in Ukraine. The ministry issued a statement saying Russia “reserves the right to take tough retaliatory measures.”
◾ Almost 250,000 Russian soldiers have been “liquidated” since the start of the war, the Ukraine military estimated Monday. Ukraine does not reveal its own losses.
◾ President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine and its partners were preparing new Western military aid packages, including air defense equipment, artillery and long-range weapons.
◾ Ukraine may receive up to 50 of the F-16 fighter jets it has requested from Western allies, Viktor Bondarev, chairman of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, told Russia’s state-run TASS news agency, warning of the impact the warplanes may have on the war.
◾ Russian attacks targeted nine regions and injured eight people over the past day, local officials reported Monday.
Russia’s long-term commitment to using drones in military operations is underscored by a new program starting Sept. 1 to teach high school students how to operate combat drones, including how to confront such uncrewed aerial vehicles from the enemy.
At that same date, Russia is implementing a new, mandatory “Basics of Life Safety” syllabus that trains high schoolers on hand grenade skills, assault rifle use and combat first aid. The British Defense Ministry said that’s all part of the government’s push to build support for its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“Russia’s renewed emphasis on military induction for children is largely an effort to cultivate a culture of militarized patriotism rather than develop genuine capability,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update, noting that the Kremlin now considers drones “an enduring component of contemporary war.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed his continuing concern over the potential threats that Wagner Group mercenaries and leader Yevgeny Prigozhin may pose during a meeting Sunday with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War suggests in its latest assessment of the war.
The assessment says Putin made several significant symbolic gestures during his meeting with Lukashenko, suggesting that Putin sought to “project power and confidence in his own supremacy” over Prigozhin, who led last month’s brief, ill-fated march toward Moscow. The assessment adds that Putin made an “unusual effort” to take photographs with local Russians, including children.
“These symbolic gestures indicate that Putin is concerned about his perceived popularity, the security of his regime and the array of factions competing for power within the high echelons of Russian governance,” the assessment says.
Medvedev calls for retaliatory strikes against Ukraine
Moscow should expand the targets for its retaliatory strikes in response to Kyiv’s attacks on civilian facilities, Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said Monday. Medvedev, in a Telegram post, said the latest strikes on Moscow and Crimea were acts of desperation by the Ukraine military prompted by what Medvedev described as Kyiv’s failed counteroffensive and pressure from the West to show results.
“We need to choose nonstandard targets for our strikes, not just storage sites, energy hubs and oil bases,” Medvedev wrote. “There are other places where nobody would be expecting us and where strikes would have a widely felt impact.”