KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia and Ukraine traded drone attacks early Wednesday, officials said, with Kyiv apparently targeting Moscow again and the Kremlin’s forces launching another bombardment of Ukrainian grain storage depots in what have recently become signature tactics in the almost 18-month war.
A three-hour nighttime Russian drone attack in Ukraine’s southern Odesa region overnight Tuesday caused a blaze at grain facilities, Odesa Regional Military Administration Head Oleh Kiper wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Ukrainian air defense systems downed nine Shahed drones, Kiper said.
“Unfortunately, there are hits on production and transshipment complexes,” he said, adding that no casualties had been reported.
Russia zeroed in on Odesa last month, crippling significant parts of the port city’s grain facilities, days after President Vladimir Putin broke off Russia‘s participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative. That wartime deal enabled Ukraine’s exports to reach many countries facing the threat of hunger.
Russian officials, meanwhile, claimed to have downed Ukrainian drones in Moscow and the surrounding region early Wednesday, the defense ministry and the mayor said. No casualties were reported in the drone attack, which has become almost a daily occurrence in the Russian capital.
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said one drone smashed into a building under construction in Moscow City, a prestigious business complex hit by drones twice before. Several windows were broken in two buildings nearby and emergency services responded to the scene.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense said the drone had been electronically jammed.
It blamed the attack on Ukraine and said two other drones were shot down by air defense systems in the Mozhaisk and Khimki areas of the Moscow region. Kyiv officials, as usual, neither confirmed nor denied Ukraine was behind the drone attacks.
Moscow airports briefly closed but have now reopened, according to Russian state media.
Neither side’s claims could be independently verified.
Ukraine has since early this year sought to take the war into the heart of Russia. It has increasingly targeted Moscow’s military assets behind the front lines in eastern and southern Ukraine and at the same time has launched drones against Moscow.
Kyiv is also trying to keep up the pressure on the Kremlin along multiple fronts, pursuing a counteroffensive at various points along the 1,500-kilometer (900-mile) front line, as well as diplomatically by obtaining pledges of more weaponry from its Western allies, including F-16 warplanes.
Meanwhile, three people were killed in the Belgorod region of Russia on the Ukrainian border after repeated shelling of a sanatorium, according to Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov.
Gladkov said the sanatorium in the village of Lavy, about 40km (25 miles) from the border, was shelled and that “the enemy dropped two grenades from a drone while people were on the street.”
The Belgorod region has witnessed sporadic fighting and shelling during the war, including a border incursion last May that prompted the Kremlin to introduce tighter security.
A handful of foreign dignitaries, including the presidents of Portugal, Finland and Lithuania, visited Ukraine on Wednesday.
Their presence coincided with the Day of the National Flag of Ukraine, which precedes Ukrainian Independence Day on Thursday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, along with Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander in Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi and other top officials, attended the unfurling in Kyiv of a giant Ukrainian flag with numerous signatures of soldiers, volunteers, doctors and rescuers.
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