30 May 2023
by Aleksandr Podrabinek and Slava Trufanov
At six o’clock in the morning, a drone landed at 18 Profsoyuznaya Street, block 6. It broke through the window of a sixteenth-floor apartment but did not explode. Nor did a single one of the three drones that flew to Moscow today and landed in apartment houses explode, it’s reported. That may have been the plan, this attack a warning for the Russian regime.
“They started banging on our door and shouting to us to run outside as fast as we could,” one of the residents of the attacked building recounts. Nearly all the residents evacuated, but some, they say, did stay.
Those evacuated were put in the nearby school. Actually, it’s warm outside, and in Moscow at 20 degrees many are sitting on benches outside and even on the lawns. They’re waiting for the police to lift the cordon so they can go home.
Almost no one is talking about what happened. They’re talking about their own concerns, their children, their job—all the things neighbours usually discuss among themselves. There is no animosity toward Ukraine and no patriotic surge. On some faces you can see concern and tense attention, but on the whole the atmosphere is quite calm.
More than likely, most people aren’t fully aware yet that the war has boomeranged back on Russia and reached Moscow.
There are lots of journalists with TV cameras trotting around the building on Profsoyuznaya. There are lots of the simply curious taking photos of the building on their smartphones.
According to a statement by the Defence Ministry, eight UAVs attacked Moscow and Moscow Region this morning and all were apparently shot down. According to unofficial reports, these areas were attacked by 25-32 drones. In at least three instances they landed in apartment houses. Vot-Tak was also able to speak with witnesses to the other attacks and learn what people are thinking about what happened.
Anna, a resident of Moskovsky:
[I woke up] from a clap. Of course I’d heard the explosion, and I thought something had happened at a construction site. Everyone knows all about what caused this situation [which began with the drone attacks].
Pyotr, a Romashkovo resident:
I heard explosions and anti-aircraft missiles fly over. I don’t think anything about that. I’m waiting for the Defence Ministry’s response. No fear or terror.
I’m just confused that the UAVs weren’t noticed until they got here, to Moscow Region. How they flew over the intervening distance unnoticed—I can’t understand it. How can we prepare for them [drone attacks]? Board up our windows? No one’s safe from this.
[In response we need to] step up our attacks on Kyiv and [step up] our defence. No negotiations [with Ukraine]. All this has been dragging on too long anyway. By now I’m tired of all this news fuss, the disinformation. I’m waiting for the “special military operation” to end.
Vladimir, a resident of Belyaevo:
I got angry, even more so. Now I’m definitely going [to fight against Ukraine]. [We have to] wipe out the threat, that’s it, period.
Yelena, a resident of Moskovsky:
In the next building [where the drone landed] our apartment is rented out. Do I need these kinds of problems? The money they should be spending on defence, certain people [stole it], and other people have the problems?
On the whole, [I’m] angry because our comrades [in the regime] are swimming in gold. Where are the systems for tracking drones? If the Defence Ministry were doing quality work, this wouldn’t happen. I have Ukrainian family. Do they need this [bombardment]?
An anonymous resident of Romashkovo:
My mood is positive. I’ve already forgotten that situation. At the time I was frightened, and now I’m just a little afraid. Honestly, I don’t want to get into politics or say anything about it. I’m not prepared [for new attacks] and don’t even know how to prepare. I’m not up on current events.
The choice of target is surprising. Why apartment houses in particular? I understand why it was the upper stories that were attacked—the 14th, 16th, and 25th. It’s easier for a drone to attack high targets. But there are a lot of tall targets in Moscow that are by no means civilian.
If there really were 20-30 drones and only three reached their target, then maybe this choice of targets was an excess, not an intentional choice.
Or maybe it’s all completely different. I remember the bombings of apartment houses in Moscow, Buinaksk, and Bogodonsk in September 1999. Also early in the morning when everyone was asleep, also apartment houses, also with a total disregard for the lives of peaceful citizens.
At the time it was used as an excuse to start a war in Chechnya. Won’t something similar happen now, too? Won’t the drone attack on Moscow serve as a reason to escalate military actions in Ukraine?
Translated by Marian Schwartz