Drone attack on Moscow foiled, Russia says, as Ukraine’s counteroffensive grinds on

Ukrainian soldier preparing a drone
A Ukrainian soldier prepares a drone on the front line in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Russian air defenses Tuesday foiled a Ukrainian drone attack on Moscow that prompted authorities to briefly close one of the city’s international airports, officials said, as a Western analysis judged that Russia has managed to slow Kyiv’s recently launched counteroffensive.

The drone attack, which follows previous such attacks on the Russian capital, was the first known assault on the city since an abortive mutiny launched 11 days ago by mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin. His Wagner troops marched on Moscow in the biggest — though short-lived — challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin in more than two decades of his rule.

Authorities in Ukraine, which generally avoid commenting on attacks on Russian soil, didn’t say whether it launched the drones.


The Russian Defense Ministry said four of the five drones were downed by air defenses on the outskirts of Moscow and the fifth was jammed by electronic means and forced down.

There were no casualties or damage, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.

As with previous drone attacks on Moscow, it was impossible to verify the Russian military’s announcement that it downed all of them.

Some convicts recruited by Russia’s private military contractor Wagner to fight in the war in Ukraine are coming home and committing new crimes.

July 3, 2023

The drone attack prompted authorities to temporarily restrict flights at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport and divert flights to two other Moscow main airports. Vnukovo is about nine miles southwest of Moscow.

In May, two daring drone attacks jolted the Russian capital, in what appeared to be Kyiv’s deepest strikes inside Russia.

Tuesday’s raid came as Ukrainian forces have continued probing Russian defenses in the south and the east of their country in the initial stages of a counteroffensive.

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council, said that the military was currently focusing on destroying Russian equipment and personnel, and that the last few days of fighting had been particularly “fruitful.” He provided no evidence, and it wasn’t possible to independently verify his assessment.


Victoria Amelina, a prize-winning Ukrainian writer, was among those killed by a deadly Russian missile attack on a popular pizzeria last week.

July 3, 2023

The Ukrainians are up against minefields, antitank ditches and other obstacles, as well as layered defensive lines reportedly up to 12 miles deep in some places as they attempt to dislodge Russian occupiers.

The British Defense Ministry said Tuesday that the Kremlin’s forces have “refined [their] tactics aimed at slowing Ukrainian armored counteroffensive operations in southern Ukraine.”

Moscow has placed emphasis on using antitank mines to slow the onslaught, the assessment said, leaving the attackers at the mercy of Russian drones, helicopters and artillery.

“Although Russia has achieved some success with this approach in the early stages of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, its forces continue to suffer from key weaknesses, especially overstretched units and a shortage of artillery munitions,” the assessment said.

Western analysts say the counteroffensive, even if it prospers, won’t end the war, which started with Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Russia, meanwhile, has continued its missile and drone barrage deep behind the front line.

Russian shelling of Pervomaiskyi, a city in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, wounded 31 civilians, Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Sinegubov said Tuesday. Nine children, including two babies, were among the wounded, he said.

Oleksandr Lysenko, the mayor of the city of Sumy in northeastern Ukraine, said that three people were killed and 21 were wounded in a Russian drone strike Monday that damaged two apartment buildings.

Even far from Ukraine’s front lines, military funerals set off waves of mourning. ‘You can’t see an end to it,’ one chaplain says as the war drags on.

June 26, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the attack also damaged the regional headquarters of the Security Service of Ukraine, the country’s main intelligence agency. He said the country needed more air-defense systems to help fend off Russian raids.

In all, Zelensky’s office reported Tuesday, at least seven Ukrainian civilians were killed and 35 others injured in the fighting over the previous 24 hours.

Putin referred to the recent mercenary rebellion that rattled the Kremlin during a video call Tuesday with leaders of the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO, which is a security grouping dominated by Moscow and Beijing.


Putin said that “Russian political circles, the entire society have shown unity and responsibility for the fate of the motherland by putting up a united front against the attempted mutiny.”

Satellite images analyzed by the Associated Press show what appeared to be a newly built military-style camp in Belarus.

July 1, 2023

He thanked SCO members for what he described as their support during the uprising.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also said that a united front had thwarted Prigozhin’s mutiny. In his first public comments on the episode, he said Monday that it “failed primarily because the armed forces personnel have remained loyal to their military oath and duty.” He said the uprising had no effect on the war in Ukraine.

Prigozhin said that he, too, had had the public’s backing for his “march of justice” toward Moscow.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it saw “no grounds” to extend a deal that has allowed Ukraine to ship grain through the Black Sea to parts of the world struggling with hunger. The statement came less than two weeks before the expiration of the agreement, which was extended for two months in May.

Moscow has complained that a separate agreement with the United Nations to overcome obstacles to shipments of its fertilizers has not produced results.