A Moscow skyscraper was hit by a drone for the second time in a week, as Russia claimed to have repelled an overnight attack on its patrol boats in the Black Sea.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said its air defences shot down two Ukrainian drones over the Moscow region early on Tuesday and jammed a third, which crashed into the same office tower in Moscow’s commercial district that was hit two days ago.
No one was injured, but the drone damaged several square meters of the building's glass facade high above the ground on a floor occupied by the Ministry of Economic Development.
“On the night of August 1, an attempted terrorist attack by the Kyiv regime with lethal drones on targets in Moscow and Moscow region was thwarted,” the Defence Ministry said on the Telegram messaging app.
Two drones were shot down in suburbs west of the city centre, it said.
“Yet another (drone) was hit by radio-electronic equipment and, having run out of control, crashed on the territory of the complex of non-residential buildings at Moskva Citi,” the ministry said, referring to a business centre in the capital.
Russian authorities also briefly closed Vnukovo airport in south-western Moscow, although officials said regular operations had resumed.
The defence ministry said Ukrainian armed forces also “tried without success” to attack the Sergei Kotov and Vasily Bykov patrol boats of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea with drones.
“The three naval enemy drones were destroyed”, it said, adding that the boats were attacked 340 kilometres south-west of Sevastopol, the base of Russia's Black Sea fleet on the annexed Crimea peninsula.
Last week, Russia said it had repelled another drone attack on the Sergei Kotov.
Hostilities around the Black Sea have escalated after Russia pulled out of an agreement that had allowed safe export of Ukrainian grain.
Ukraine rarely comments on incidents that take place on Russian territory in its war against Moscow, now in its 17th month.
But this week, in an oblique reference to drone attacks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the war “is returning to the territory of Russia – to its symbolic centres and military bases”.
Ukraine began its long-awaited counteroffensive in June but has made modest advances in the face of stiff resistance from Russian forces on the frontline.
Intense fighting continues to be focused in two sectors in southern Ukraine, according to British military intelligence.
“South of Orikhiv, the focus of Ukrainian assaults have been against Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army (58 CAA),” the Ministry of Defence said in its daily intelligence update on Tuesday.
“58 CAA is highly likely struggling with battle fatigue and attrition in forward deployed regiments which have been in intense combat for over eight weeks.”
Elements of the 5th Combined Army are also believed to be under particular pressure, but across the south as a whole, common problems are “highly likely” to include shortage of artillery ammunition, a lack of reserves and problems securing the flanks of units in the defence, it said.
Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of Russia's armed forces, visited troops in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia region, inspecting a command centre, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.
A video showed him looking at a map, receiving briefings and climbing into a helicopter.
The general was for many months the target of savage criticism from Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and some Russian military bloggers over Russia's failings in the war.
After Wagner staged a brief mutiny against the defence establishment on June 24, there were questions as to whether Gen Gerasimov would keep his job. More than two weeks elapsed before he was seen again in public, on July 10.
Tuesday's statement and video seemed designed to show that he not only remains in his post but is engaged with troops on the front line.
The Zaporizhzhia region has seen some of the fiercest fighting of recent weeks, since Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in early June.