Russia’s Defense Ministry has reported thwarting Ukrainian drones in five Russian regions, while drones hit an airport in the western Pskov region, amid a significant increase in Kiev's "terrorist" attacks.
In the early hours of Wednesday, Russian air defenses neutralized what appeared to be the biggest unmanned aerial vehicle attack (UAV) on Russian soil since Kiev increased such attacks following its failure to gain military victory in its much-publicized counteroffensive.
Russian air defense units prevented an “attempt by the Kiev regime to carry out a terrorist attack by airplane-type UAVs on Russian infrastructure,” the military said in a brief statement.
Ukraine's drones were shot down over the regions of Moscow, Oryol, Kaluga, Ryazan, and Bryansk, while the Ukrainian UAVs crashed into an airport in the western Pskov region which appeared to be the only region where the Ukrainian drones caused damage.
The strike in Pskov started a massive fire and four Il-78 transport aircraft were damaged, Russia’s state news agency Tass reported, citing emergency officials.
Pskov regional Governor Mikhail Vedernikov ordered all flights to and from the Pskov airport canceled Wednesday, citing the need to assess the damage during daylight.
Footage and images posted on social media overnight showed smoke billowing over the city of Pskov, and a large blaze.
According to several Russian Telegram channels, over a dozen drones had targeted the Pskov airport.
Mash, a Russian news channel on the Telegram messaging app, reported that one of the drones may have struck a fuel depot and set it on fire, causing “thick black smoke” to rise above the city.
Vedernikov said there were no casualties, and the fire had been contained.
Moreover, shortly after midnight, three unmanned aircraft were shot down in the western Russian border region of Bryansk and at least one intercepted over Oryol, some 200 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.
Around 2 a.m., another drone was detected and downed over the Kaluga region, southwest of Moscow, the Defense Ministry added in another statement.
At 2:30 a.m., a plane-type unmanned aerial vehicle was downed in the Ryazan region.
At about 3:30 a.m., another Ukrainian UAV was intercepted and crashed over the territory of the Moscow region. The hostile UAV was downed while heading toward the Russian capital, Moscow, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said, adding that it caused no damage or injuries on the ground.
At 4 a.m. yet another UAV was downed over the Ryazan region, according to the Defense Ministry.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that it had destroyed three Ukrainian drones over the Bryansk region.
A falling drone, shot down by Russian air defenses, caused damage and fire at an administrative building in the city of Bryansk, regional Governor Alexander Bogomaz wrote on Telegram on Wednesday.
"Air defense forces of the Russian Defense Ministry foiled an attack by Ukrainian terrorists. An unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down over the Sovetsky district of Bryansk. There were no casualties," the governor said, adding that the drone crash partially damaged the roof and glazing of an administrative building.
Bogomaz reported that three fixed-wing Ukrainian drones were shot down by an air defense system above Bryansk. First responders are working at the scene, the governor added.
Earlier, the Russian aviation authority had announced the emergency closure of airspace over the Tula, Ryazan, Kaluga, and parts of the Moscow region, following explosions at an airfield in northwestern Russia.
Ukraine has previously sent “drone swarms” at Crimea, where they were met with intense Russian air defenses.
Groups of two to three UAVs also targeted the Moscow City trade center in the Russian capital, causing minor property damage and no casualties.
The Kremlin has dismissed the attacks as a “nuisance” and an act of desperation, intended to distract from Kiev’s failure on the battlefield.