Ukrainian Drones 100 kilometers from Moscow
The Russians have raised an alarm, claiming that a Ukrainian UAV crashed ca. 100 kilometers from Moscow. Putin, reportedly, issued an order on making border control more strict, at the Ukrainian border. This had no measurable effect whatsoever, and the Ukrainian drones still conduct operations in Russian airspace.
As we know now, a small drone of unknown origin has crashed ca. 100 kilometers away from Moscow. The Russians did release information on that UAV being shot down, but this stands somewhat in contradiction with how good the shape of the aircraft was, once it hit the ground. It could have been a technical malfunction just as well. The objective behind the drone's presence in the area remains unknown. It is however quite plausible, that it was all about hitting a large Gazprom facility in the Moscow district.
Russian media report that an unknown drone was shot down near a Gazprom object in Moscow region.— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) February 28, 2023
It is more than 500 km away from Russian border with Ukraine. Soon Putin might get very afraid to show himself in public as drones can reach far distances. pic.twitter.com/D3iEp0jyAu
Gazprom did confirm that the UAV crashed close to its facility:
🇷🇺🇺🇦Gazprom potwierdził upadek drona w pobliżu zakładu firmy:— RaportWojenny (@RaportWojenny) February 28, 2023
„Tak, obok nas spadł dron. Praca nie została zagrożona w żaden sposób. Obecnie sprawa leży w gestii FSB” pic.twitter.com/Lagj8NDG7Y
The Russians accuse the Ukrainians of attacking their territory; the Ukrainians did not admit that they had done that, adding that they do have a right to attack Russia, to divert attention from the offensive coming up. This does not change the fact that the drone has been ID'd as the Ukrainian-made UKRJET UJ-22 platform.
For the Russians the situation has been threatening, as on 28th February 2023 a series of Ukrainian UAV strikes happened in their territory, despite the clear instructions Putin gave on that matter. We know that UAVs, on that day, did pass over the Russian Belgorod region, which shares its southern border with Ukraine. Release regarding the explosion caused by at least a single UAV was also issued by officials at the Black Sea Tuapse harbor - 550 kilometers from the area controlled by the Ukrainians. Air raid alert was also announced in some Russian cities, interrupting the normal broadcast of radio and TV programmes. In this case, the hackers, not drones, were blamed.
The threatened area is much bigger, as the UJ-22 can fly at ranges of up to 800 kilometers (100 km if RF guidance by the operator is used). The Russians claim that the UAV that they found was not armed. It can carry up to 20 kilograms of payload (bombs or loitering munitions utilizing the RPG-7 warheads).
The UJ-22 drone was also mentioned by Andrey Vorobyov, the governor of the Moscow District. He said that the drone reportedly hit the Gazprom's facility (around 80 kilometers from the Kremlin) and that the crash did not cause any losses on the ground. He said that no risk emerged for the local community.
The seriousness of the situation was described best by an adviser of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, Anton Geraschenko who published a photo of the drone shot down via his twitter account, suggesting that soon Putin may start refraining from public appearances, as the Ukrainian drones can reach far distances.