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Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera

Ukrainian drone hits Russia’s Kursk region, Moscow repels attack: Officials

Roman Starovoit, governor of the Kursk region, second from right, and other officials inspect the site of a Ukrainian drone attack in Kursk, Russia, on August 20, 2023 [File: Governor of Kursk region Roman Starovoit Telegram channel via AP Photo]

A Ukrainian drone attack on the Russian town of Kurchatov in the Kursk region damaged an administrative and residential building, while a second drone was shot down near Moscow, local officials said.

Kursk regional Governor Roman Starovoit said emergency services were assessing the damage in Kurchatov town following the early morning attack on Friday.

“There are no casualties,” Starovoit wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

The governor reported that two buildings were damaged by two drones, but later clarified that only one unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was involved in the raid on Kurchatov town, located just a few kilometres from the Soviet-era Kursk nuclear power station which is one of Russia’s largest.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin also reported early on Friday that Russian air defences had shot down a drone that was approaching the capital city.

The drone was downed near Lyubertsy, which is located approximately 20km (12 miles) southeast of central Moscow, he wrote on Telegram. No further details were available.

Moscow’s three main airports – Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo – were reported to have cancelled and rescheduled flights early on Friday morning due to reports of an unidentified object flying in the capital’s airspace, according to a local online news report.

Russia’s state-run TASS news agency later reported that Vnukovo airport resumed operations at 7:28am local time (04:28 GMT) following the lifting of restrictions linked to an attempted drone attack.

On Thursday, Moscow mayor Sobyanin said that wanted to expand the city’s air defences, in the face of near-daily drone attacks on the Russian capital.

“This year, we have done a lot to protect Moscow from drones and attempted terrorist attacks,” Sobyanin told representatives of municipal companies, according to the Interfax news agency.

New air defence systems have been erected in recent weeks, sometimes daily, Sobyanin said.

“Sometimes the asphalt doesn’t even have time to cool down – and already the missiles are in action, shooting down the flying drones,” he said, according to Interfax.

Independent observers have expressed doubts about official reports from Russia that many of the suspected Ukrainian drones are detected and shot down by Moscow’s air defence.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy revealed on Thursday night that Ukrainian forces had produced a new weapon that had a target range of some 700km (435 miles).

He did not provide further details other than to say efforts were being made to further increase the range of the new weapon.

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