Video: Ukraine prepares for counteroffensive amid massive Russian airstrike 2:36

(CNN)-- It's a familiar routine for Ukrainians: explosions ring out in the city and drone videos appear overhead. Anti-aircraft defenses spring into action and authorities issue preliminary statements confirming the attack.

But this time, the crystals and concrete shattered in the Russian capital, not Kyiv. It seems that Russia's war against Ukraine has broken through to Moscow.

Here's what we know so far. On Tuesday morning, a wave of drone strikes hit the Russian capital. According to state news agency RIA-Novosti, an unmanned aerial vehicle hit the upper floors of a residential skyscraper in southwest Moscow, damaging the building's façade. Another hit an apartment on the 14th floor of a residential building on Leninsky Prospekt, one of the city's main arteries.

  • Drone attack on Moscow: Here's what we know

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said via Telegram that emergency services were at the scene and that two people had been injured, neither hospitalized. A few hours later, Sobyanin said residents evacuated from apartment buildings hit by the drones were on their way back to their homes.

But Moscow is unlikely to be able to return to its uneasy status quo of life during what the Kremlin euphemistically calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year, most of Russia has been spared the kind of scenes Ukrainians routinely face.

In the months since, Russian regions bordering Ukraine have come under fire, and local authorities have reported occasional shelling by the Ukrainian side. The Kremlin on Friday accused Ukrainian helicopters of attacking inside Russian territory, claims Kyiv neither confirmed nor denied.


And earlier this month, drones penetrated the security rings surrounding the Kremlin, the very seat of power in Russia.

An ambulance and fire engines parked outside a residential building following a drone strike in Moscow, Russia. Credit: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Ukraine denied involvement in Tuesday's attack, though a senior official made clear that Russia was testing its own medicine after months of bombing of Ukrainian cities.

"Of course, we enjoy seeing and predicting an increase in attacks," Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said. "But of course we have nothing directly to do with it."

"What is growing in Russia is the karmic payment that Russia will gradually pay in an aggravated way for everything it does in Ukraine," he added.

However, Tuesday's attacks seem qualitatively different from previous ones. To begin with, this was not a symbolic blow against the Russian state, like the murky drone attack on the Kremlin. On the contrary, it seems to have struck close to the heart of Russia's political and economic elite. Some of the drones reportedly hit or flew over Rublyovka, a prestigious suburban area southwest of Moscow where oligarchs, politicians and senior officials live in luxury gated communities. The area is also very close to Putin's Novo-Ogaryovo residence, where the Russian leader is known to spend most of his time.

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Russian lawmaker Alexander Khinshtein said Tuesday that several drones were shot down in Rublyovka, including one in Ilyinskoye, a village about three kilometers from Novo-Ogaryovo. CNN geolocated images from Ilyinskoye showing a drone flying across the sky.

In a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin was in the Kremlin after Tuesday's attacks in Moscow, saying the president "received information directly from law enforcement, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the mayor of Moscow and the governor of the Moscow region" after starting his workday early.

"Everyone worked correctly," Peskov said. "The air defense system also worked well. Clearly, we are talking here about the Kyiv regime's response to our very effective attacks on one of [its] decision-making centers."

But the symbolism of attacking Rublyovka did not go unnoticed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of Russia's Wagner mercenary group.

In response to a question from a journalist, Wagner's boss launched a rant full of expletives against the leaders of the Russian Defense Ministry after the attacks.

View of a residential building damaged after a drone strike in Moscow, Russia. Credit: Lev Sergeev/Reuters

"Why do you allow these drones to attack Moscow?" he said. "The fact that they fly to Rublyovka, to your house, to hell with it! Let their houses burn."

Prigozhin never misses an opportunity. The leader of the mercenary group, whose political ambitions have unexpectedly come to the fore in recent months, has maintained a bitter public dispute with the Russian military leadership and accused the Russian Defense Ministry of doing "absolutely nothing" to modernize Russia's drones and anti-drone defenses.

"As a person who understands some of this, I can tell you that many years ago it was necessary to deal with these [drone] programs, that we are now years behind our opponents, years, maybe decades," he said.

It is unclear whether this is another opportune time for Prigozhin to pursue his revenge against Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. And many questions remain about how a wave of remotely piloted drones managed to penetrate Moscow's highly protected airspace, where they were launched from and who ordered the attack.

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The Defense Ministry claimed its air defenses worked, claiming that all the drones were destroyed, three of them suppressed by electronic warfare and five others shot down by surface-to-air missiles. Russian drone expert Denis Fedutinov, frequently quoted by state news agency TASS in the past, speculated that the strikes were an attempt to probe Russian air defenses.

"The aim of the raid was probably to discover Moscow's air defenses and reveal its vulnerabilities," he said.

But it is clear that drone strikes are an embarrassment for the Russian military, regardless of how the remotely piloted vehicles were launched. And it remains to be seen whether this incursion is a precursor to more dramatic and headline-grabbing attacks, amid signs of an imminent Ukrainian counteroffensive.

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