Chaos erupted in Russia overnight as drones swarmed multiple regions, sparking an explosion at an oil depot and the deployment of fighter jets near St. Petersburg, according to local reports.
One strike at around 2 a.m. in the Krasnodar region was less than 100 feet from a Russian Defense Ministry barracks, the independent Agentstvo News reports. Two drones filled with explosives landed at a nearby Rosneft oil depot in Tuapse, sparking a blaze that was “quickly extinguished,” according to the Russian outlet Baza.
Hours later, St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport came to a standstill as authorities shut down the surrounding airspace, reportedly in response to an “unidentified flying object” spotted in the area.
Local authorities confirmed to RIA Novosti that incoming and outgoing flights were temporarily halted, though they gave no reason for the move. Meanwhile, Baza reported, fighter jets were deployed to take down the “object.”
A short while later, however, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed the whole thing had simply been a training exercise, and the airspace was reopened.
Drones were also reported overnight in the Bryansk and Belgorod regions, as well as the Republic of Adygea. Another drone landed in the Moscow region, near a Gazprom gas compressor station on Tuesday. Local reports noted that the drone could have made it to the Kremlin in less than an hour if it had not crashed.
“The FSB and other competent authorities are dealing with the situation, there is no threat to the safety of residents,” Moscow Region Governor Andrei Vorobyov said in a statement.
The strikes were part of what local media described as a “mass drone attack” that appears to have intensified in the last 24 hours.
On Monday morning, residents of an apartment building in the Belgorod region, near the border with Ukraine, were forced to evacuate in the middle of the night after one of four drones crashed into the building, according to Baza. Another drone landed on the roof of a supermarket and exploded, scorching the premises.
“People were moved to a safe place. Everyone was offered the chance to stay in a hotel while the special services do their work,” Belgorod Mayor Valentin Demidov announced on Telegram.
While no injuries were reported, pro-war Russian military bloggers fumed at the string of drone strikes.
“The enemy undertook a daring attack today, drones in Belgorod, Tuapse, Adygea, and now in St. Petersburg, and because of this, the airspace in the city and the region is closed,” read one Telegram post shared by the Wagner-connected Grey Zone.
Another popular pro-Kremlin channel said the drone attack should be viewed as “preparation for a spring offensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, when the purpose of such strikes will be to destabilize the home front and spread mass panic among Russians.”