Ukraine launches powerful drone strikes on final day of Russian elections

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Ukraine launched a new wave of attacks inside Russian territory on Sunday, killing at least two people, including a teenager, according to local officials, as Russians voted on the final day of a presidential vote ready to extend President Vladimir Putin’s rule for another six years.

Authorities also said a drone fell on a refinery in the Krasnodar region, causing a fire that was extinguished a few hours later. A refinery worker died of a heart attack, authorities said.

Oil refineries and terminals have been targeted by Ukrainian drone attacks in recent days, according to Russian officials, as part of intensified attacks on Russian territory, including long-range drone strikes and alleged raids by Russian proxies based in Ukraine. as Putin heads for near-certain re-election in Russia.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported the downing of 35 Ukrainian drones overnight, including four in the Moscow region. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said a fifth drone, near the capital’s Domodedovo airport, was shot down on Sunday morning. No casualties or damage were reported.

According to the Defense Ministry, two drones were shot down over the Kaluga region, just south of the Russian capital, and four in the Yaroslavl region, northeast of Moscow.

The attacks on the Yaroslavl region, located about 800 kilometers (500 miles) from the Ukrainian border, were some of the furthest launched by Ukraine so far.

More Ukrainian drones were shot down over the Belgorod, Kursk and Rostov regions bordering Ukraine, and the southern Krasnodar region, the Defense Ministry said.

The bombing of Belgorod on Sunday morning killed a 16-year-old girl and wounded her father, while a second attack later that day killed another man and wounded 11 others, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said.

In other places, a Drone attack on a military facility In Moldova’s breakaway republic of Transnistria destroyed a helicopter and started a fire on Sunday, authorities said. Pro-Russian authorities in the area blamed the attack on Ukraine. The Reintegration Policy Office said in a statement that they did not “confirm any attacks” against Transnistria and described the reports as an “attempt to cause fear and panic in the region.”

There have been a series of Ukrainian drone attacks in recent days that Putin described as an attempt by Ukraine to scare residents and derail Russia’s presidential election.

“These enemy attacks have not and will not go unpunished,” he promised during Friday’s meeting of Russia’s Security Council. “I am sure that our people, the people of Russia, will respond to that with even greater cohesion.”

Two Russian ballistic missiles hit the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on Sunday, wounding at least five people, the region’s governor, Vitaliy Kim, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

The Ukrainian military also said that 14 Russian drones had been shot down on Sunday over the Odessa region, following a Russian ballistic missile attack in the southern port city on Friday that killed at least 21 people.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Sunday that the country’s defense secretary, Grant Shapps, abandoned a trip to Odessa earlier this month because of a Russian missile threat. The Sunday Times reported that Shapps, who visited kyiv on March 7, had been warned by British intelligence that Russia had learned of his travel plans.

As war drag towards a third yearRussian forces have made some slow, gradual gains along the front line, relying on their firepower advantage, while Ukraine has counterattacked with more drone strikes deep inside Russia.

There have also been an increasing number of cross-border raids.

Russia’s Freedom Legion, one of several armed groups that includes Russians fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, said on Sunday it had taken control of the Russian border village of Gorkovskiy in the Belgorod region. A video posted on social media appeared to show troops removing the Russian flag from the village’s main administrative building. The images were not independently verified by The Associated Press.

A similar group, the Russian Volunteer Corps, posted a video on social media on Saturday claiming to have captured 25 Russian soldiers. The claim also could not be independently verified.

Meanwhile, the Russian military said on Saturday it had thwarted another attempted cross-border incursion by Ukrainian “sabotage and reconnaissance groups.”

Cross-border attacks in the area have taken place sporadically since the war began and have been the subject of claims and counterclaims, as well as disinformation and propaganda.


Jill Lawless in London and Stephen McGrath in Sighisoara, Romania, contributed to this report.


This story has been corrected to show that contributor Stephen McGrath is in Sighisoara, Romania, not Bucharest.

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