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Ukraine war latest: Drones hit Moscow, Zelensky says war 'gradually returning' to Russia

by Daria Shulzhenko and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 31, 2023 12:43 AM 7 min read
A photo published on July 29 shows President Volodymyr Zelensky (L), Zelensky's Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak (C), and Head of Special Operations Forces Viktor Khorenko (R) talking in Donetsk Oblast. (President Volodymyr Zelensky)
This audio is created with AI assistance

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Key developments on July 29-30

  • Drones attack Moscow, reportedly damaging Russian ministries' offices
  • Military reports hitting bridge between occupied Kherson Oblast and Crimea
  • Russia launches missile attack at educational institution in Sumy, kills 2, injures 20
  • Peace formula talks to take place in Saudi Arabia; Russia will not attend
  • Zelensky visits Ukrainian positions in Donetsk Oblast, recovering soldiers in Ivano-Frankivsk

Three drones attacked Moscow in the early morning of July 30, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed.

Two of the drones hit buildings in Moscow, while one was destroyed over the Odintsovsky district of the Moscow region, the ministry claimed.

Following the attack, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that the facade of two buildings in the "Moscow City" business district was "insignificantly damaged."

Photos from the spot showed substantial damage to several building floors.

According to the independent Russian media outlet The Insider, the offices of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Digital Development, as well as the Federal Agency for Nationalities, and several other agencies were located in the building hit by drones.

A local Telegram channel also posted photographs of the documents allegedly belonging to the Russian Ministry of Digital Development found on the nearby streets following the attack.

Although Sobyanin claimed there were no casualties, the Russian Defense Ministry said one person was injured due to the attack.

Russia claimed Ukraine was responsible for the attack.

A view of a damaged office block of the Moscow International Business Center (Moskva City) following a reported drone attack in Moscow on July 30, 2023. (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

In a video message on July 30, President Volodymyr Zelensky said it's "natural and fair" that the war is returning to Russian territory.

"Ukraine is becoming stronger. The war is gradually returning to Russian territory – to its symbolic centers and military bases, and this is an inevitable, natural, and absolutely fair process," Zelensky said.

He did not, however, clarify what he meant by the war "returning to Russian territory."

"Russian aggression has suffered bankruptcy on the battlefield," he said. "Today is the 522 day of (Russia's) so-called 'special military operation,' which the Russian leadership expected to last a week or two."

Yurii Ihnat, the Ukrainian Air Force's spokesperson, also commented on the attack, saying the drones aimed to affect Russians who felt that the all-out war was distant.

"There's always something flying in Russia, as well as in Moscow. Now the war is affecting those who were not concerned," Ihnat said.

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Multiple hits in Crimea

On July 29, Ukraine's military intelligence said the explosions at the ammunition warehouse in Russian-occupied Crimea that took place earlier on July 28 were the result of sabotage.

The intelligence agency, however, didn't explicitly say whether Ukraine was behind the attack.

When asked by the Kyiv Independent whether Ukraine was behind the explosions, Andriy Chernyak, a representative of the military intelligence, only said that the warehouse "was an enemy site on Ukrainian territory."

The agency reported that two explosions were heard at around 10 p.m. on July 28 and were followed by the sounds of detonating ammunition.

The warehouse was located in Kozacha Bay near Sevastopol, the largest city in Crimea and a major port for the Russian Navy. According to the report, Russia's 810th Separate Marine Infantry Brigade is based in Kozacha Bay.

Later in the day, the Ukrainian military confirmed it had struck the Chonhar Bridge, a key connection between occupied Crimea and the Russian-occupied part of Kherson Oblast.

The confirmation by the Strategic Communications Directorate of Ukraine's Armed Forces comes after the Russian proxies in the occupied Kherson Oblast accused Ukraine of attacking the railway connecting Dzhankoi in Crimea and Henichesk in Kherson Oblast with cruise missiles on July 29.

Other bridges across the Chonhar Strait between Crimea and Kherson Oblast were also damaged on June 22 following strikes.

General Staff Deputy Chief Oleksii Hromov later said Ukraine had carried out the attacks using Storm Shadow missiles.

The Chonhar Bridge serves as an important route for Russian military personnel and supplies on the southern front line.

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Russia attacks Sumy, kills 2

On July 29, Russian troops launched a missile attack against the northern regional capital Sumy, hitting a local educational institution.

As a result of the attack, two people were killed and 20 injured, Sumy City Council reported. Three people were hospitalized.

Following the attack, local authorities reported that two dormitories and four residential buildings were damaged.

Over the past day, a total of nine communities in Sumy Oblast were under Russian attack, Sumy Oblast Military Administration reported.

According to the report, Russia shelled the Sumy, Krasnopillia, Bilopillia, Yunakivka, Myropillia, Seredyna-Buda, Esman, Nova Sloboda, and Shalyhyne communities.

The authorities said two private residential buildings and a power line were damaged in Nova Sloboda. No further casualties or damage to civilian infrastructure have been reported.

Sumy Oblast is located on Ukraine's northeastern border with Russia. It has been the target of daily Russian shelling and attacks from across the border since parts of the oblast were liberated from Russian troops in early April 2022.

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'Peace formula' talks to take place in Saudi Arabia; Russia will not attend

On July 30, President's Office Head Andriy Yermak said that a meeting to discuss the implementation of Ukraine's peace initiatives would be held in Saudi Arabia in the near future.

According to him, the three-phase Ukrainian Peace Formula will ensure peace in Ukraine and "create mechanisms to counter future conflicts in the world."

"We are deeply convinced that the Ukrainian peace plan should be taken as a basis because the war is taking place on our land," Yermak said during a visit to Ivano-Frankivsk.

The Wall Street Journal reported on June 29, citing unnamed diplomats, that Saudi Arabia is due to host peace talks in early August, with top officials from 30 countries, including India and Brazil, invited.

According to the media, Russia will not attend the summit, and China's presence is also unlikely.

The attendance of the U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is expected. However, there was no confirmation yet from the National Security Council, according to the report.

The summit comes as Russia and the West battle over the support of developing countries, which have mostly stayed neutral throughout Russia's all-out war against Ukraine.

The WSJ said the event is set to be held in the port city of Jeddah. Although it's unclear which countries will attend the summit, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine have chosen 30 invitees, including Egypt, Mexico, Indonesia, Chile, and Zambia, according to the WSJ.

The media also reported that the U.K., South Africa, Poland, and the EU have confirmed their attendance.

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Zelensky visits Ukrainian positions in Donetsk Oblast, recovering soldiers in Ivano-Frankivsk

On July 29, President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the Ukrainian positions in Donetsk Oblast, marking the professional holiday of Ukraine's Special Operations Forces.

"Bakhmut direction, advanced positions of the Special Operations Forces. Today, I am here to congratulate our warriors on their professional day and to honor their strength," Zelensky wrote on Telegram.

The following day, Zelensky visited a rehabilitation center in the western regional capital of Ivano-Frankivsk to meet with soldiers undergoing treatment.

"I want to thank our soldiers for their feat and heroism. Thank you from all Ukrainians for defending our country. We will definitely win! I wish you all a speedy recovery!" Zelensky said.

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