Ukrainian Drones Target Russia on Final Day of Voting, Russian Officials Say

Ukraine fired a volley of exploding drones at Moscow and other targets on the final day of Russia’s presidential vote on Sunday, the local authorities said, continuing a flurry of attacks over the past week timed for the rubber-stamp election.

The assaults combine strategic goals — diverting Russian troops from the front inside Ukraine and destroying energy infrastructure — with a political objective, namely undermining President Vladimir V. Putin’s long-cultivated image as a leader protecting Russia.

In recent days, ground assaults along the Russian border appeared to be the most disruptive of the attacks. On Sunday, Russian officials said that Ukraine had targeted seven regions of the country. The Russian military said it had shot down 35 exploding drones.

An oil refinery was set on fire in the Krasnodar region of southern Russia and air defense forces shot down two drones flying toward Moscow, Russian officials said.

The governor of the Krasnodar region, Veniamin Kondratyev, said debris from drones shot down by the military had ignited the fire at the oil refinery.

Four drones were shot down in the Yaroslavl region, which is northeast of Moscow, according to the local authorities.

There was no immediate comment from Ukraine’s military on the attacks inside Russia.

In his nightly address to Ukrainians on Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky praised domestic arms production that has grown to produce long-range weaponry capable of hitting targets deep inside Russia.

“These weeks have demonstrated to many that the Russian war machine has vulnerabilities that we can reach with our weapons,” Mr. Zelensky said. “What our own drones are capable of is a true Ukrainian long-range capability.”

Sunday’s drone attacks came amid continuing skirmishes along a stretch of border between the Sumy and Kharkiv regions of Ukraine and the Belgorod and Kursk regions of Russia.

Three groups of Russian exiles supported by Ukraine’s military intelligence agency have been attacking along the border since Tuesday, in what could be the largest ground assault into Russia since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Russia has responded by bombarding the towns and villages in Ukraine where the exile groups are staging. Ukraine’s military on Sunday reported 69 strikes over the past day in the Sumy region.

Elsewhere, two missiles struck the city of Mykolaiv, in southern Ukraine, Vitaliy Kim, the head of the regional military administration, told Ukrainian news media on Sunday. The authorities said at least five people had been injured. In Nikopol, a southern Ukrainian city, an exploding drone hit a gas station, injuring three people. And authorities in the Odesa region in the south reported drone strikes that damaged agricultural warehouses, but no casualties.

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