Drone crash near Moscow was failed attack, governor says


A drone has crashed in the Moscow region in what was likely an attempt to target civilian infrastructure, the regional governor said.

Andrei Vorobyov was speaking after the defence ministry reported downing two Ukrainian drones in southern Russia.

Ukraine does not claim responsibility for attacks inside Russia.

Russian energy giant Gazprom operates a facility near the village of Gubastovo, about 100 km (62 miles) from Moscow, where the drone crashed.

Gazprom told Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti that its operations in the Kolomna region had not been interrupted.

The target of the drone in Kolomna “was probably a civilian infrastructure facility, which was not damaged”, Mr Vorobyov posted on Telegram.

“There are no casualties or damage on the ground. The FSB (Russian security service) and other competent authorities are investigating,” he added.

Images shared by Russian media and officials show a damaged drone in a snow-covered field in front of a forest of birch trees. The area around the Gazprom facility is heavily forested.

The appearance of the drone matches that of the UJ-22 Airborne, a product of Ukrainian manufacturer Ukrjet.

Ukrjet says the vehicle has a range of 800km – enough for it to reach the Kolomna area from Ukraine.

A reverse image reveals no previous matches for the image, suggesting it is recent.

Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, tweeted a photo of the drone.

“It is more than 500km away from Russian border with Ukraine. Soon Putin might get very afraid to show himself in public as drones can reach far distances,” he wrote alongside the photo.

If Ukraine was behind the Kolomna drone, it would be the closest attempted drone attack to the capital since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago.

It came as the Russian defence ministry said its forces had downed two Ukrainian drones in southern Russia.

The ministry accused Kyiv of attempting to use drones “to attack civilian infrastructure in the Krasnodar region and the Adygea Republic”, adding that they were “neutralised by electronic warfare units”.

Moscow has accused Ukraine of being behind attacks on Russian military infrastructure during the war, but Kyiv has not confirmed this.

A Ukrainian drone attack on an airbase for bombers in southern Russia in December left three people dead, Moscow said. The Ukrainian military did not officially admit to the attack, but air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said the explosions were the result of what Russia was doing on Ukrainian soil.

Just weeks before, Russia accused Ukraine of a similar attack on the same airfield, which is home to bombers that have carried out missile attacks on Ukraine.

In August, a series of blasts rocked a military base in Crimea, in what was seen as a significant expansion of the conflict by Ukraine into Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. Ukraine later claimed responsibility for that attack.

President Vladimir Putin told the FSB on Tuesday to intensify its activity against what he said was increasing espionage and sabotage by Ukraine and the West.

He instructed the FSB to strengthen security in territories occupied by Russia in eastern Ukraine. He said units deployed at the border must stop sabotage groups and prevent the passage of illegal weapons and ammunition.

“We need to beef up our counterintelligence in general, because Western special services have traditionally been very active in relation to Russia,” he said.

“And now they have put in additional personnel, technical and other resources against us. We need to respond accordingly.”

Russia’s defence ministry said its fighter jets were involved in a training exercise in the country’s western airspace on Tuesday, hours after airspace over St Petersburg was closed due to reports of an unidentified object.__BBC