Russia says it thwarted Ukraine drone attacks on Crimea

(Reuters) – Russia’s air forces thwarted a coordinated Ukrainian attack on Crimea early on Sunday, destroying at least six drones that were targeting the peninsula from different directions, the Russian defence ministry said.

Two drones were destroyed at 1:15 a.m. (2215 GMT Saturday) off the western coast of Crimea and four more half an hour later off the northwestern and eastern coasts, the ministry said on the Telegram messaging app.

The ministry did not say whether there was any damage or casualties. Reuters could not independently verify the report and there was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

The reports come after a series of strikes this week on Russian military targets on the Crimean Peninsula, seen as Kyiv’s increased attempts to break down Russia’s war efforts. Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in a broadly condemned move in 2014.

The number of attacks deep inside Russia and far from the front lines has also increased, with Moscow’s mayor and the Russian defence ministry saying early on Sunday that a drone was destroyed in the Istra district in the Moscow region.

According to preliminary information, there were no injuries or casualties from the falling drone debris in Istra, Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on the Telegram messaging app.

Russian TASS state news agency reported that at least 24 flights were delayed at Moscow’s major airports – a frequent move by aviation authorities during drone strikes on the capital.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by David Gregorio and Kim Coghill)