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Russia's Aerospace Forces (VKS) is highly likely under intense pressure from Moscow to bolster air defense over western Russia as drone attacks inside Russia have increased over the past months, the U.K. Defense Ministry said on Aug. 20.
In its intelligence bulletin, the ministry said that the string of drone strikes deep inside Russia is "strategically important" since Russian President Vladimir Putin likely thought the war in Ukraine would have little direct impact on his people inside the country.
Drone attacks on Moscow and other Russian cities have especially increased after the May drone strike that targeted Putin's Kremlin residence overnight. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks, including the drone strike on the Kremlin.
Earlier on Aug. 20, Kursk Oblast Governor Roman Starovoit claimed that a Ukrainian drone hit the roof of the Kursk railway station overnight, causing a fire. Kyiv has not reacted yet.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) also said on Aug. 19 that Russian forces and geolocated images indicate what appears to be a drone strike on the Soltsy airbase in Novgorod Oblast that likely damaged a strategic aircraft.
According to the U.K. Defense Ministry's Aug. 20 report, drones are regularly hitting Moscow and there have been more reports of SA-5 Gammon missiles – Soviet-era long weapons retired from Ukraine's air defense inventory – being used as ground attack ballistic missiles.
The VKS Chief of Staff, Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov, is likely to be under pressure, the ministry said.