Did Ukrainian Military Drones Target Residential Buildings in Moscow in May 2023?

Russian authorities attributed a May 30, 2023, drone attack in Moscow to Ukrainian forces. Ukraine has denied direct involvement.

Published May 30, 2023

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In the early hours of May, 30, 2023, several drones were downed or disabled above Moscow, causing minor damage to at least two residential structures and causing minor injuries to two people. It was, according to The Associated Press (AP), the first time residential buildings in the Russian capital had been struck as part of Russia's war against Ukraine.

As reported by the Kyiv Post, the Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) claimed that eight drones were used (a point of contention), and that all of them were either downed or disabled:

Two residential buildings that were hit are located in the affluent south-western part of the Russian capital and near the city [center], with one close to a popular park. …

The Russian [defense] ministry said that eight drones were used in the attack adding that "all the enemy drones" were either downed or disabled. Other sources claimed as many as 25 drones were used in the attack.

A statement from the MOD described the event as "a terrorist attack with unmanned aerial vehicles on targets in the city of Moscow." Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose forces have been attacking residential regions in Kyiv with drones relentlessly, vowed to respond with "mirror actions." Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to the head of Ukraine's Presidential Office, denied Kyiv's direct involvement in the strikes, as reported by the Kyiv Post:

Kyiv has issued a denial of sorts, with Mikhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the President's office, saying on Tuesday morning Ukraine "has no direct relationship with drone attacks on Moscow." He added: "We are happy to watch and predict an increase in the number of attacks."

Pro-Russia social media accounts have attempted to paint the incident as a major escalation, using footage of the incidents as evidence that Ukraine is going beyond its stated goal of regaining its own territory and is acting like a terrorist state:

Here, Snopes explores what is known about the strike and the competing narratives that have developed in its wake. 

Are Videos of the Attack Legit?

At least eight airplane-style drones were involved in the attack, according to the Russian MOD. Several videos of these drones being downed went viral in the immediate aftermath of the attack and have since been confirmed as legitimate.

Videos that have been geolocated to the Moscow region show some of the drones loitering in the skies above Moscow:

According to AP, the governor of the wider Moscow region stated that some of the drones were "shot down on the approach to Moscow." Other geolocated videos show them crashing into empty fields or being shot by air-defense systems:

According to the independent Russian media outlet Medusa, at least two residential buildings were hit:

Citing a source from the country's emergency services, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that one drone hit the top floors of a residential building at 98 Profsoyuznaya Street, damaging the building's facade and the windows. A second drone hit a 24-story residential building on Atlasov Street in New Moscow, part of the Moscow metropolitan area.

Several videos show the high-rise apartment building at Altasov Street with minor damage to an upper-floor facade: 

Other footage shows damage to 98 Profsoyuznaya Street with what appears to be the remains of a drone at its base: 

According to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, two people received treatment for unspecified injuries but did not need hospitalization.

Do These Videos Prove Ukraine 'Targeted' Residential Structures

While Ukraine has denied direct involvement in the drone attack, it is clear that at least some of the drones caused damage to residential buildings. This is not evidence, on its own, that whoever launched that attack was intentionally targeting these buildings. 

Though reports are conflicting, Russia claims to have destroyed or disabled all the drones involved in the attack with either electronic-warfare tools or with ground-based air defense systems, as reported by RT:

The raid involved eight aircraft-type UAVs, all of which were hit; three drones that were suppressed by electronic warfare measures went out of control and deviated from their intended targets…

It is impossible to know what the intended target would be for drones that were disabled or destroyed prior to reaching that target. If Russia's statement has any truth to it, then none of the residential structures hit during the May 30 attack were their intended target. 

As several commentators have pointed out, some of the drone activity appeared centered around an elite part of Moscow, the Rublyovka suburb, in which Putin has a home. According to the Kyiv Post, a senior Russian lawmaker said three drones had been downed over the capital's exclusive Rublyovka suburb where President Putin has an official home.

How Has the World Reacted?

The U.S. and U.K. have offered different levels of support for any potential Ukrainian drone strike within Moscow. As reported by the Kyiv Independent:

U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said during a press conference that Ukraine has "the legitimate right to (defend itself) within its own borders, but it does also have the right to project force beyond its borders to undermine Russia's ability to project force into Ukraine."

The U.S. did not go so far. "As a general matter," a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council said to CNN,  "we do not support attacks inside of Russia." 

After the attacks, Putin said, "The Kyiv regime ... attempts to intimidate Russia, Russian citizens and strikes at civilian buildings. ... It is, of course, a clear indication of terrorist activity."

Outside of Russia and pro-Russia social media, claims that this potential drone strike reveals Ukraine's true nature as a terrorist state have not been taken seriously. For one thing, Russia continues to regularly strike residential areas with either drones, ballistic missiles, or both. 

A residential building in Kyiv is struck by a Russian missile at the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. 

On the weekend prior to the events in Moscow, Russia launched its largest yet drone strike on Kyiv, killing a civilian.  

The Bottom Line

A series of drone strikes targeted Moscow on May 30, 2023. Myriad videos depicting elements of the strike have been confirmed to be associated with this incident, and Russia was quick to label the strike an act of Ukrainian terrorism. 

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the incident, suggesting but not directly stating that anti-Putin Russian elements were behind the strike. On Telegram, Zelensky adviser Podolyak wrote that Ukraine "has provided enormous opportunities for Russia's underground resistance movements to show themselves."


"Kiev Regime behind Terrorist Attack on Moscow – MOD." RT International, Accessed 30 May 2023.

"Multiple Apartment Buildings Hit, Injuries Reported What We Know about the Drone Attack on Moscow." Meduza, Accessed 30 May 2023.

"Russia Launched 'largest Drone Attack' on Ukrainian Capital before Kyiv Day; 1 Killed." AP NEWS, 28 May 2023,

"Russia Says Drones Lightly Damage Moscow Buildings before Dawn, While Ukraine's Capital Bombarded." AP NEWS, 30 May 2023,

"Ukraine War Latest: Russia Says Ukraine Has Attacked Moscow with Drones; Kyiv 'Knows Where Putin Is in Real-Time.'" Sky News, Accessed 30 May 2023.

"US, UK Officials Have Conflicting Reactions to Drone Attack on Moscow." The Kyiv Independent, 30 May 2023,

York, Chris. "EXPLAINED: Everything We Know About the Moscow Drone Attack." Get the Latest Ukraine News Today - KyivPost, Accessed 30 May 2023.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.