Overnight and into the early morning on Thursday, the central part of the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don was rocked by a drone strike direct hit, amid broader attacks on multiple other regions.
Russia’s military said that at least three regions of the country were targeted by drones out of Ukraine, in what’s now become a weekly or almost daily trend of escalation. Reportedly a location which hosts Russia’s central command center for its operations in Ukraine was targeted in the Rostov attack, which lies in southern Russia.
Rostov region Governor Vasily Golubev said that “Two drones were shot down by air defense systems in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, which lies less than 40 miles from the Ukrainian border.” But at least one scored a direct hit.
While the defense ministry said inbound drones in other parts of the country, such as the Moscow region, were shot down, Golubev additionally confirmed that the attack on Rostov-on-Don damaged three buildings and left at least one injury.
Most drones from Ukraine are intercepted or fail to do much damage, but video from this latest attack on Rostov shows a direct hit on the city center.
⚡️Ukrainian drone strikes on the Russian city of Rostov tonight pic.twitter.com/pS5GAdZ5sd
— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) September 7, 2023
An additional cluster of drones was said to have been destroyed by anti-air defenses over the Bryansk region, while on Thursday morning five villages in Russia’s Belgorod region were hit by cross-border Ukrainian artillery.
The New York Times in a fresh report commented on the significance of this attack as follows:
Explosions rocked the area around one of Russia’s largest military hubs before dawn on Thursday…
…The southern city of Rostov-on-Don, where at least one of the explosions occurred, is home to Russia’s southern military headquarters and is a key command center for its forces in the war. Russian news outlets posted a series of videos showing an explosion in the center of the city, but it was not clear what caused the blast.
Another video of the Rostov strike captured from further away…
Explosions in downtown Rostov-on-Don were 2 blocks away from Russia’s Southern Military District headquarters.
Prigozhin had captured the whole city during his armed mutiny. pic.twitter.com/2l8RqT9aSM
— Igor Sushko (@igorsushko) September 7, 2023
The report noted that clearly the Ukrainian military or intelligence was behind it, even if Kiev didn’t own up to it – part of the trend of increased attacks meant to create psychological tension and instability in Russian society.
“Frederick B. Hodges, a retired lieutenant general and former top U.S. Army commander in Europe, said that the strikes inside Russia have a cumulative effect, possibly hurting the economy and heightening tensions in a Russian military command already unsettled by the fallout from Mr. Prigozhin’s short-lived mutiny and setbacks in the war in Ukraine,” the NYT cited.
There are massive explosions in the city of Rostov in Russia located 170km from the frontline in Ukraine 🇺🇦
The explosions 🔥 are likely Ukrainian Kamikaze Drone strikes, reportedly targeting the Headquarters of Russia’s Southern Military District pic.twitter.com/E7oNvZ7Le9
— Ukraine Battle Map (@ukraine_map) September 7, 2023
The Kremlin has increasingly pointed the finger at US and NATO intelligence for assisting Kiev with target locations inside Russia in what has constituted a massive escalation. Some major US media reports have cited US officials who appear to actually admit this.