Flights grounded at two airports as Moscow hit by drone attack

Russia claims to have shot down drone in latest of 25 aerial assaults this month

An emergency cordon set up around a building in Moscow damaged by a drone attack on August 23. EPA
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Russia has shot down a Ukrainian drone flying towards Moscow, the country’s Defence Ministry said.

In a message posted on Telegram, Sergei Sobyanin, Moscow’s mayor, said air defence forces in the Voskresensky district, about 60 kilometres from the capital, "destroyed a drone flying towards Moscow”.

A Russian Defence Ministry statement later said the unmanned aircraft was Ukrainian.

Mr Sobyanin said initial reports had suggested the drone had not caused any damage or casualties and emergency services were at the scene.

More than 40 flights were delayed on Thursday morning at Moscow’s Vnukovo and Domodedovo airports, the Kommersant daily newspaper reported, citing a flight-tracking website. No reason was given for the delays.

Moscow skyscraper hit for second time in drone attack

Moscow skyscraper hit for second time in drone attack

Airports in the city have in the past few weeks cancelled or delayed flights due to reports of Ukrainian drone activity.

On Tuesday evening and into the early hours of Wednesday, Russia was hit by the largest attack by drones since the start of the war in Ukraine, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defence.

Five explosions were recorded in Moscow, Bryansk and Ryazan, as well as at Pskov airbase close to the Estonian border.

“The attack on Pskov likely damaged several Russian military transport aircraft,” the Ministry of Defence in London said.

Russia has been hit by 25 attacks this month, which were almost certainly carried out using one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles (OWA-UAVs), the MoD said.

“Many of these UAVs have reached their targets, which likely means that Russian air defence is having difficulty detecting and destroying them,” it added. “Russia is likely rethinking its air defence posture in the area between Ukraine and Moscow to better deal with these attacks.”

The MoD said Russia may have to consider incorporating stronger defence systems into its airfields that are vulnerable to attack because, as the latest assaults have demonstrated, “UAVs have significant reach”.

At least one person was killed in Russia on Saturday in a series of drone attacks.

Mr Sobyanin said air defence systems brought down a Ukraine-launched drone over the Istra district of the Moscow region, about 50km west of the Kremlin.

Flights at three airports serving the capital were brought to a standstill for hours.

One person was killed by shrapnel from a drone over the region of Belgorod that borders Ukraine in Russia's south-west, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram.

Six were wounded in Ukraine's shelling of the village of Urazovo, he said, where 16 houses were damaged.

Russian air forces shot down another Ukraine-launched drone on Saturday evening over the western Bryansk region, which also borders Ukraine, the Defence Ministry in Moscow said.

Updated: August 31, 2023, 9:27 AM