Putin blames Kyiv for 'terrorist' drone attack as his Ukraine war comes home to Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday blamed Kyiv for at least eight drones that flew toward residential areas of Moscow earlier in the day, causing damage to apartment buildings and minor injuries. "Kyiv chose the path of intimidation of Russian citizens and attacks on residential buildings," in a "clear sign of terrorist activity," he said. "They are provoking us into responding in kind." Hours earlier, Russia's third straight night of missile and drone attacks on Kyiv had killed one woman and sent exhausted residents running for shelter.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Kyiv was "happy" to watch the drones target Moscow but was not "directly involved" in the attack. The U.S. said it does not condone strikes inside Russia "as a general matter" but also pointed out that Tuesday's attack on Kyiv was Russia's 17th strike on Ukraine's capital in May alone. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said that generally speaking, Ukraine has "the right to project force beyond its borders" to undermine Russian attacks.

Russia's defense ministry said Pantsir missiles shot down five of the drones over Moscow and it disabled three others with electronic jamming technology. "The Moscow air defense system worked satisfactorily," Putin said. "However, there is still work to be done to make it better." Some of the drones crashed in wealthy suburbs outside Moscow that house mansions of the capital's elite, including Putin.

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Muscovites said they were rattled by the attack. "The physical damage was minimal," The New York Times reported, "but the psychological impact may prove far bigger for a citizenry that to date has been able to go about daily life with little thought for the bloodshed taking place over the border." Kyiv or its proxies have struck air bases and infrastructure inside Russia, even sent drones over the Kremlin, CNN's Nathan Hodge noted, but with capital residents now getting a taste of the nightly terror in Kyiv, "Russia's war on Ukraine, it seems, has come home to Moscow."

Russia "launched 20 nights of one-way-attack uncrewed aerial vehicle and cruise missile attacks deep inside Ukraine" in May, but it also "increasingly ceded the initiative in the conflict and is reacting to Ukrainian action rather than actively progressing toward its own war aims," Britain's Ministry of Defense said Wednesday. "Russia has had little success in its likely aims of neutralizing Ukraine's improved air defenses and destroying Ukrainian counter-attack forces. On the ground, it has redeployed security forces to react to partisan attacks inside western Russia."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.