Home News Ukraine vs Russia: Putin vows to retaliate as drones attack Moscow

Ukraine vs Russia: Putin vows to retaliate as drones attack Moscow

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Vladimir Putin has vowed to retaliate against what he claimed were Ukrainian drone strikes on Moscow, which exposed Russia’s growing vulnerability to blowback from his invasion.

Russia’s president accused Ukraine of “terrorist activity” and “provoking us to respond with tit-for-tat measures” after strikes hit residential areas in the Russian capital early on Tuesday morning, which he said were aimed at “scaring Russian citizens and hitting residential buildings.”

Although Putin did not say how Moscow would respond and claimed Russia did not attack civilian targets in Ukraine, he made his first reference for several months to a possible nuclear escalation of the war, accusing Ukraine of trying to cause an accident at a nuclear power plant in occupied Zaporizhzhia or use a dirty bomb.

The claims, first made last autumn, sparked fears in the west that Russia could be using the accusations to manufacture a pretext for its own nuclear use as its battlefield position deteriorated.

Putin said Moscow’s anti-air defences had proved “satisfactory” but “there is still work to be done”, adding Russia had experienced similar problems at Hmeimim air base during its campaign supporting Bashar al-Assad’s government in the Syrian war.

The drone strikes came as Russia launched another wave of aerial attacks on Kyiv, killing at least one person, hospitalising others and forcing the evacuation of a high-rise building — the fourth attack in three days on Ukraine’s capital.

Such attacks have become a regular occurrence in Kyiv since Russia began targeting civilian infrastructure with mass air strikes last autumn. The assault on Tuesday was the 17th on the capital in May alone after Ukraine’s forces shot down dozens of ballistic cruise missiles and drones over Kyiv in the early hours of Sunday and into Monday.

Ukraine’s Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ignat said Nato-grade air defence systems, including the US-made Patriot system, had been used to defend the capital in recent days. A Financial Times reporter observed the Patriot system knocking out a missile during morning rush hour on Monday. Debris from several missiles fell on to building tops and roadways in the capital.

In Moscow, two people suffered minor injuries after a number of drones crashed into residential buildings in the city’s south-west, mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.

Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu said Ukraine had used eight drones in the attack but that none had hit their targets. He claimed Russia had downed five drones outside Moscow with Pantsir anti-aircraft systems and forced the other three to crash after jamming their control systems.