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Zelensky pledges that war is ‘inevitable’ on Russian territory

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Multiple injuries after explosion in Taganrog, Russia

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky last night warned war is coming to Russia after a drone attack on the capital Moscow.

He said attacks on the territory were “inevitable, natural and absolutely fair”.

Three Ukrainian drones were downed in the early hours of Sunday, with two crashing into offices just miles from the Kremlin.

No fatalities have been reported but photos from the scene show damaged windows at the corner of the buildings, with debris scattered on the ground below.

The drone attacks are the latest that Moscow has blamed on Kyiv.

READ MORE Putin’s ally claims successful counter-offensive would force Russia to use nukes

Ukrainian officials did not acknowledge the attacks but in a video address yesterday from the western Ukrainian city of Ivano-Frankivsk, Mr Zelensky said that Ukraine was getting stronger.

He said: “Today is the 522nd day of the so-called ‘Special Military Operation’, which the Russian leadership thought would last a couple of weeks.

“Gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia – to its symbolic centres and military bases, and this is an inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process.”

Sunday’s was the fourth such strike on the capital this month, showing Moscow’s vulnerability as Russia’s war in Ukraine drags into its 18th month.

Vnukovo Airport, southwest of the city centre, was also briefly shut. One eyewitness in Moscow, who only gave her first name as Liya, said she could see fire and smoke.

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“We heard an explosion and it was like a wave, everyone jumped,” she said.

“Then there was a lot of smoke and you couldn’t see anything. From above, you could see fire.”

Mr Zelensky’s threat came just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he does not reject the idea of peace talks.

Following a meeting with African leaders in St Petersburg, Putin claimed a joint African and Chinese initiative could serve as a basis for finding peace.

He told reporters: “The initiative, in my opinion, can be the basis of some processes aimed at the search for peace, the same as others, such as for example, the Chinese initiative.”

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Mr Putin said one of the points in the initiative was a ceasefire, but warned it was hard to implement a ceasefire when the Ukrainian army was on the offensive. Mr Zelensky has rejected the idea of a ceasefire now, saying it would leave Russia in control of nearly a fifth of his country and give its forces time to regroup after 17 grinding months of war.

Ukraine and Russia have previously said they will not come to the negotiating table without certain preconditions.

Kyiv wants its borders as they were in 1991 to be reinstated, something the Kremlin is deeply opposed to.

Moscow argues instead that for negotiations to take place, Kyiv would have to accept its country’s “new territorial reality”.

Russia is occupying territory in the country’s south and east.

The drone attacks shook the financial district of Moscow and prompted Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president who is now Putin’s deputy on the powerful Russian security council, to threaten a nuclear response.

He said: “Imagine if the…[Ukrainian] offensive, which is backed by Nato, was a success and they tore off a part of our land? Then we would be forced to use a nuclear weapon according to the rules of a decree from the president of Russia. There would simply be no other option. So our enemies should pray for our warriors’ (success).”

Putin spent yesterday inspecting a flotilla of warships and nuclear submarines in his native St Petersburg, while announcing that the Russian Navy would receive 30 new ships this year.

Some 45 ships, submarines and other vessels took part in Russia’s annual Navy Day event, a traditional show of military might which takes place in the Gulf of Finland and on the River Neva in St Petersburg.

Around 3,000 navy personnel also took part in a parade on land, the Kremlin said.

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