Drones strike Moscow in first attack on capital's residential areas since the war began

Drones hit Moscow on Tuesday morning in what appeared to be the first attack on residential areas of the Russian capital since the invasion of Ukraine.

It comes weeks after an alleged drone attack on the Kremlin itself and after days of deadly Russian bombardment of civilians in Kyiv, as events far from the front lines take the spotlight ahead of Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive.

Tuesday's incident damaged some buildings in Moscow and forced residents to evacuate homes, officials said, though the Kremlin largely shrugged off the dramatic display that its war was increasingly coming home.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the attack sought to intimidate the public, and he commended the work of the capital’s air defense.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that eight uncrewed aerial vehicles were involved in the strikes. All drones were destroyed, three of them when they lost control after they were jammed and the five others when anti-aircraft systems shot them down, it added.

The ministry blamed Ukraine for what it called a “terrorist attack.”

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in an interview that his country "has nothing directly to do" with the drone attacks on Moscow but that it was "pleased to observe and predict an increase in the number of attacks."

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said drones had “caused minor damage to several buildings.” In a series of posts on the Telegram messaging app, he said that two people “sought medical attention” and that there were no serious injuries.

He added that some residents were evacuated from some parts of the two affected buildings “for safety reasons” while emergency services were working on the scene.

Moscow drone attack (Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP - Getty Images)
Moscow drone attack (Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP - Getty Images)
Moscow drone attack (AP)
Moscow drone attack (AP)

The regional governor, Andrei Vorobyov, said “several drones” were shot down as they approached the city.

Photos and video shared on Russian social media appeared to show a drone flying over a town in the western Moscow region, as well as smoke and the sound of an explosion in a village in the same area.

Russian authorities said an investigation had been launched.

A spokesperson for President Joe Biden's National Security Council said: "As a general matter, we do not support attacks inside of Russia. We have been focused on providing Ukraine with the equipment and training they need to retake their own sovereign territory, and that’s exactly what we’ve done."

The spokesperson noted that Tuesday was the 17th time this month that the Ukrainian capital had been hit by another Russian attack.

Kyiv authorities reported strikes on several districts in the city, with one person reported killed and at least seven more people injured.

Russia launched “several waves” of attacks with a combination of drones and missiles, officials said, after a rare daytime attack Monday that marked an intensifying assault on the city.

Speaking on Ukrainian television Sunday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said he had qualms about how people in Moscow "rest" while Russian forces brutalize Kyiv.

But while Ukraine's capital has faced relentless bombardment, Tuesday's drone strikes were unprecedented for Moscow.

Russia said four weeks ago that two drones targeted the Kremlin in what it called an attempt on Putin's life. Moscow blamed Kyiv for that alleged incident, as well, a charge Ukrainian officials denied.

Putin framed the Moscow attack as a response from Ukraine after Kyiv suffered the largest drone attack since the start of the war Sunday, the day it marked the anniversary of its founding.

In comments to the state news agency Tass nearly 10 hours after Tuesday's incident, Putin said Moscow's air defense systems had worked "satisfactorily," although there was "something to work on." Still, he said, there was an understanding of how to seal any gaps.

"I am not so much worried about that as the attempts to get a response from Russia," Putin said. "That appears to be the goal. They provoke a mirror response from us. We will see what we will do about that."

The war has been creeping deeper into Russia in recent months, with drone attacks on strategic sites and last week’s raid into the Belgorod region near the border, which was claimed by anti-Putin militias.

Ukraine has frequently denied responsibility for the growing wave of attacks within Russia.

“Today’s raid on Moscow somewhat equalized the situation between the capital and Belgorod,” Russian political analyst Abbas Gallyamov, a former Putin speechwriter, wrote on Telegram. “The inhabitants of the latter will not be so offended now, the population of the former will not care a little less.”

Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin blamed his country's military leaders for allowing the drone attacks.

In an expletive-ridden audio statement on his social media channels, he criticized the Russian Defense Ministry — the latest public rebuke for a ruling elite he recently warned could not only lose the war but also lead the nation toward a revolution similar to the events of 1917.

“The fact that they are flying to Rublyovka, to your home, to hell with it! Let your houses burn,” he said, referring to an upscale area of Moscow popular with Russian oligarchs. “And what do ordinary people do when drones with explosives crash into their windows?”

Russian authorities' rush to downplay the significance of the attack was "striking," an analyst said.

The system is fully directed at “self-praise for the sake of salvation” while expecting “patience” from the Russian people, the founder and head of the political analysis firm R.Politik, Tatiana Stanovaya, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote on Telegram. “That remains to be seen.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com