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Putin slams Ukraine as attack drones hit Moscow high-rises

Published : Wednesday, 31 May, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 160

MOSCOU, May 30: President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused Kyiv of seeking to "frighten" Russians after drones hit Moscow high-rises in the first such attack since the beginning of the Kremlin's assault on Ukraine.

As drones struck in and around Moscow, Russian drones targeted Kyiv for a third straight day while Ukraine gears up for a major offensive against Russian forces.

Officials said no one was seriously injured in Moscow and there was only "minor" damage to residential buildings but some ordinary people said they never thought the Russian capital could be hit in this way.

"I somehow thought that all of this was somewhere far away, that this would not affect us, and suddenly this has become very close," pensioner Tatyana Kalinina told AFP in southwest Moscow near one of the damaged residential buildings.

The Russian defence ministry said that eight drones were used in the attack, adding that five of them were downed and three disabled.    

Putin said that Moscow's air defence had worked in a satisfactory manner, noting that the attacks were Kyiv's "response" to a Russian strike on Ukraine's army intelligence headquarters.

He said Ukraine was trying to "frighten" Russians.

"We have spoken about hitting command centres (in Ukraine)," the Russian president said.

"In response, the Kyiv regime has chosen a different path, the path of trying to frighten Russia, frighten the citizens of Russia and of strikes on residential buildings."

Of the three drones that hit residential buildings, two crashed into high-rises located in Moscow's affluent southwest, while a third damaged a residential building in a suburb.

The other drones fell outside Moscow. Some of the debris was found around 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Putin's Novo-Ogaryovo residence.

One video shared on social media showed an explosion followed by a column of smoke rising into the sky.

This month two drones were intercepted over the Kremlin, but Tuesday's attacks were the first time that unmanned aerial vehicles hit residential areas of Moscow, hundreds of kilometres from the front lines in Ukraine.

The raids are likely to be seen as a major embarrassment for the Kremlin, which has gone to great lengths to say the protracted conflict in Ukraine does not pose a threat to Russians.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Kyiv had "no direct relation" to the attacks.    �AFP

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