KYIV, Ukraine — A drone crashed into a high-rise residential building in southwestern Russia near the border with Ukraine, a regional governor said Friday, exposing the latest vulnerabilities in the country's air defense systems as President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine increasingly affects Russian soil.
The latest drone attack to target Russian cities in recent weeks wounded three people and came amid a front-line push by Ukrainian forces in what appears to be the early stages of a long-awaited counteroffensive in pockets of south and east Ukraine that Russia invaded more than 15 months ago.
The Ukrainian presidency’s website posted a video statement overnight from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that alluded to the latest efforts of his country’s forces to drive out the Russian invaders, along various parts of the more than 1,000-kilometer (about 620-mile) front line.
Speaking inside what appeared to be a train car after visiting flood-hit southern Ukraine on Thursday, Zelenskyy said it was “not time” yet to talk about the details of the fighting. but said he was in touch with Ukrainian forces “in all the hottest areas” of the fight and praised an unspecified ”result” from their efforts.
Ukrainian officials have kept generally quiet about their latest military moves, refusing to join in on rising commentary from Western military experts and others that the counteroffensive — critical for Ukraine's Western-funded military effort — was underway.
Analysts and Russian reports suggest Ukrainian forces have been active around the city of Bakhmut, which was largely devastated in a bloody, monthslong standoff, as well as carrying out probing operations around Russian-occupied areas of the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions.
Ukrainian authorities have generally also denied any role in attacks inside Russia.
In a Telegram post Friday, regional governor Alexander Gusev said the three residents were hurt by shards of glass from broken windows in the city of Voronezh and received help on the spot. Russian state media published photos showing a high-rise apartment building with some windows blown out and damage to the facade.
Gusev said the drone was targeting a nearby airbase, but veered off course after its signal was electronically jammed. The city lies some 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, most of which is occupied by Russia.
Separately, Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov of the neighboring Belgorod region, which also borders Ukraine, said on Telegram that air defenses had been working overnight and an apartment building and private homes had been damaged. He said two unspecified targets were shot down, but he did not specify the cause of the damage.
Such drone strikes — they have previously hit places like residential areas in southern Krasnodar and there was even one at the Kremlin — along with cross-border raids in southwestern Russia have exposed glaring breaches in Russian air defenses and porous border security, and brought the war home to Russians.
Separately, Gov. Oleksandr Prokudin of Ukraine's southern Kherson region said Friday that water levels had decreased by about 20 centimeters (about 8 inches) overnight on the western bank of the Dnieper River, which was inundated starting Tuesday after a breach of the Nova Kakhovka dam upstream. The lower part of the river runs along the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
Officials on both sides gave figures that indicated about 20 people have died in connection with the flooding, which has added misery to the lives of Ukrainians beleaguered by the war.
Viktor Vitovetskyi, a representative of Ukraine’s Emergency Service, said 46 municipalities in the region have been flooded — 14 of them along the Russian-occupied eastern bank.
Even as efforts to rescue civilians and supply them with fresh water, health care and other services, Russian shelling over the last day killed two civilians and injured 17 in the region, Prokudin said.
Across the country, a total of at least 4 civilians were killed and 41 people were injured over the past day, according to Zelenskyy's office.
Kozlowska reported from London. Jon Gambrell in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Hanna Arhirova in Warsaw contributed to this report.