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Drones crashed into two skyscrapers in Moscow’s premier business district on Sunday, sparking a fireball and leaving large charred holes in the side of the buildings, in the latest attack on the Russian capital.
Videos taken by eyewitnesses showed a drone flying at dawn between the high rises of the Moscow City business area and then crashing, causing an explosion at the base of one of the towers. Another video taken from inside one of the buildings showed a destroyed office space scattered with debris.
The district, which is grouped on the embankment of the Moscow river on the western edge of the city, is home to many leading Russian companies, such as VTB Bank and Norilsk Nickel.
“Tonight there was an attack by Ukrainian drones. The facades on two City office towers were slightly damaged,” Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said, adding there had been no casualties.
The attack marks at least the fifth time that drones have reached Moscow since May when two of the aircraft were shot down late at night over the Kremlin. Others have hit buildings in suburban areas, and six days ago drones also crashed into more centrally located buildings, including an office block.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday’s drone attack. Ukraine, which was invaded by Russian forces last year, has tended not to claim drone attacks on Russian territory or in Crimea.
Russia’s defence ministry claimed that during Sunday’s attack the drones lost control and crashed after they had been suppressed by its electromagnetic defences.
“One Ukrainian drone was destroyed in the air by air defence means over the territory of the Odintsovo district of the Moscow region,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Two more drones were suppressed by electronic warfare means and, having lost control, crashed on the territory of the complex of non-residential buildings in Moscow City,” it added.
The defence ministry also claimed to have taken down 25 drones over the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.
Moscow’s Vnukovo airport, one of its three main airports, was briefly closed to flights on Sunday as a result of the attack.
In Moscow City, the Tass state news agency reported that the fifth and sixth floors of the IQ-Quarter 50-storey office block were damaged, as was the fourth floor of the Oko-2 tower.
Vladimir Putin was informed of the attack, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was cited by Tass as saying. The Russian president was in Saint Petersburg on Sunday for a parade of the Navy.
Speaking on Saturday at the end of his summit with African leaders in Saint Petersburg, Putin claimed Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive had been halted by Russian forces.
He welcomed discussions on a peace proposal for the Ukraine war presented by a group of African leaders and said there were similarities between the proposal and a plan outlined by China. Putin also said Russia would begin deliveries of grain to Africa in the next three to four months.