Downed in a snowy wood near Moscow, is this drone evidence of plan to attack Russian capital?
CRUMPLED among the trees just miles from Moscow, this crashed drone prompted Russia to accuse Ukraine of a brazen bid to attack its capital last night.
Regional governor Andrey Vorobyev said the unmanned reconnaissance craft came down close to Kolomna, 70 miles south east of the Kremlin.
‘Apparently the drone quickly lost altitude, possibly due to running out of fuel, and damaged its wing against the trees, which caused it to fall,’ said Shot, a proKremlin channel on messaging app Telegram. The report said it was a UJ-22 Airborne drone made by Ukraine’s Ukrjet firm with a range of nearly 500 miles.
If confirmed, it would be the furthest Ukrainian forces have succeeded in dispatching military vehicles inside Russia.
The target of the drone ‘was probably a civilian infrastructure facility, which was not damaged’, Mr Vorobyev 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.
Kyiv has carried out successful attacks over its borders, including strikes on the Engels air base from where Moscow has launched assaults on Ukraine. And Anton Gerashchenko, a senior adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, hinted at Ukraine’s involvement in launching the drone, saying: ‘Soon Putin might get very afraid to show himself in public as drones can reach far distances.’ News of the drone crash came as Vladimir Putin lashed out at Russian spymasters, telling his top spooks they must up their game to beat their Western rivals.
The despot told officials yesterday that they must crack down on so-called ‘sabotage groups’ from Ukraine and prevent foreign agents reviving ‘terrorist’ groups inside the country – but provided no evidence for his claims.
‘Western intelligence services have traditionally always been active in Russia, and now they have thrown additional personnel, technical and other resources at us,’ Putin said. ‘ We need to respond accordingly.’ The Russian president said the FSB spy agency must do more to prevent illegal weapons flowing into Russia, and to strengthen security in four regions of Ukraine that Moscow falsely claims as its own.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has faced a series of embarrassing security failures blamed on Kyiv and its allies.
Its territory has been hit by drone strikes, pro-Kremlin media hacked, and the daughter of a prominent warmongering nationalist assassinated.
Last week, Ukrainian intelligence chief Kirill Budanov claimed that members of Putin’s inner circle had defected to Kyiv.
But it comes as Ukraine’s army faces an increasingly difficult battle to hold on to the eastern frontline city of Bakhmut.
Both sides have been fighting for six months to seize control of the Donbas town, making it the longest-running battle since the invasion began in February last year. Rebel leader Denis Pushilin of the so- called Donetsk People’s Republic claimed that ‘practically all roads’ into the city were now ‘under Russian control’.
And in a sign that the Ukrainians could soon be defeated there, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the country’s ground forces, said the situation was ‘extremely tense’.
‘Despite significant losses, the enemy threw in the most prepared assault units of Wagner, who are trying to break through the defences of our troops and surround the city,’ he said.
Speaking about Bakhmut in his nightly address on Monday, president Volodymyr Zelensky warned: ‘The enemy is constantly destroying everything that can be used to protect our position.’
Mr Zelensky again repeated his call for Ukraine’s Western allies to send modern fighter jets so ‘the entire territory of our country’ can be defended from what he called ‘Russian terror’.
‘Soon Putin might get very afraid’