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Drone attacks in the financial center of Moscow sow panic and bewilderment among the inhabitants

The gleaming towers of the financial district of the city of Moscow dominate the skyline of the Russian capital. Sleek glass and steel buildings – designed to attract investment amid the economic boom of the early 2000s – strike a dramatic, modern contrast to the rest of this 800-plus-year-old city.

Now they are a sign of their vulnerability, after a series of drone strikes have shocked some Muscovites and brought the Ukraine war to the heart of Russian power.

The attacks on Sunday and Tuesday are not the first to affect Moscow: in May, a drone hit the Kremlin without causing damage.

These latest explosions, which did not cause casualties but blew out parts of a skyscraper’s windows and sent glass cascading into the street, did result especially disturbing.

“It’s very scary because you wake up at night hearing explosions,” said a woman who gave her name only as Ulfiya as she walked her dog, adding that she lived in a nearby building.

A policeman in front of a building damaged by a drone in the financial center of Moscow, this Tuesday. Photo: EFE

Like other Muscovites interviewed by Associated Pressdid not want to give more identity information for fear of reprisals or for his personal safety.

Another neighbor, who gave her name Ekaterina, said Tuesday’s explosion “sounded like thunder.”

“I think for the first time I was really scared,” he added. “I don’t understand how people in a war zone can live like this every day and not go crazy.”

The Russian Defense Ministry reported shooting down two Ukrainian drones outside Moscow and electronically jamming another, causing it to crash into the IQ-Quarter skyscraper, which houses government offices including the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Digital Development and Communications and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the same building that was hit on Sunday.

police operation

The center of Moscow, heavily guarded after the drone attacks in recent days.  Photo: AP

The center of Moscow, heavily guarded after the drone attacks in recent days. Photo: AP

A cordon was established around the skyscraper and personnel from the fire brigade and the Russian Investigative Committee went to the scene.

Hours later, residents were already strolling through the neighborhood along the Moskva River or sitting on benches sunbathing. By 1 p.m. Tuesday, workers were beginning to replace the damaged windows.

Located 10 minutes by metro west of the Kremlin, the business district is home to some of Moscow’s swankiest restaurants, with sweeping views of the capital and a lavish menu that includes three types of caviar, Russian Far Eastern seafood, and French cuisine.

But there was no escaping the grim news.

Although Russian state television has downplayed the attacksone channel sandwiched a segment on how Moscow’s air defenses had successfully intercepted the drones between reports highlighting Russian attacks on Ukraine.

A building damaged by a drone attack in the financial center of the Russian capital.  Photo: EFE

A building damaged by a drone attack in the financial center of the Russian capital. Photo: EFE

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to President Volodimir Zelensky, declared in Ukraine that Moscow “is quickly getting used to a full-fledged war”, without confirming or denying Kiev’s participation in the drone attacks that have struck in recent days. from the capital to the Crimean peninsula.

Following Sunday’s attack, the Kremlin declared that security would be tightened.

However, the size of the drone that struck Moscow’s financial district led analysts to question the effectiveness of the capital’s air defenseshinting that it could have been launched from Ukraine.

Blow to the official speech of Russia

“If so, it would be quite embarrassing for Russia’s air defenses. If a drone has been in Russian airspace for hours, the air defenses should have detected it and shot it down sooner,” said Ulrike Franke, an expert on drones and military technology at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Although there has been no major physical damage, the fact that the drone campaign has reached Moscow “blows up the Russian narrative that the war against Ukraine is a success and that it is being carried out far from any consequences for the Russian people themselves,” said Keir Giles, a Russia expert at London-based think tank Chatham House.

“That is something that is going to be increasingly difficult for the Russian propaganda machine to explain,” he added.

A Muscovite who identified himself to the AP only as Eldar summed up the attacks this way: “We attack them, they attack us. And it is obvious that they will succeed somewhere and we will succeed elsewhere. We must try to strengthen the defense.”

In Odintsovo, where part of the drones were shot down some 30 kilometers southwest of the capital, some residents commented on the events on the local Telegram channel.

One woman spoke of hearing noises that turned out to be from a car or improperly closed garbage cans and seeing what she thought were drones but were actually a flock of birds, an airplane and a plastic bag being blown by the wind.

“How is it possible to live like this?” he asked the group.

“Stop creating panic,” admonished one of the members.

“If you hear a noise, be glad you didn’t hit it,” added another.

Source: The Associated Press

Translation: Elisa Carnelli


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