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Russia says it has repelled a drone attack on a Moscow airport


Russia's invasion of Ukraine keeps coming home to Russia.


When the invasion started last year, it seemed that Russian territory was secure. It was protected by nuclear weapons, and Ukraine had no obvious way to strike back. But in recent months, armed groups have conducted operations on Russian soil. Russia's own mercenaries briefly raced toward Moscow. Drones attacked the Kremlin. And this morning, Russia says drones tried to attack a Moscow airport.

SCHMITZ: For the latest, NPR's Greg Myre joins us from Ukraine's capital, Kyiv. Welcome, Greg.


SCHMITZ: What do we know about what happened today?

MYRE: So Russia says the Vnukovo Airport, just to the south of Moscow, came under an attempted drone attack early this morning. The defense ministry says that, near the airport and surrounding areas, four drones were shot down. A fifth was intercepted and fell harmlessly. Incoming flights were temporarily diverted, but operations are back to normal. This is one of three big civilian airports that serve Moscow. Russia is blaming Ukraine, calling it an act of terrorism. Ukraine isn't commenting. However, Ukrainian officials have spoken about how they're extending the range of their drones to reach Moscow, which is about 300 miles from Ukraine's border.

SCHMITZ: So sticking with Russia here, are there signs of potential fallout from this recent internal rebellion by a mercenary leader there?

MYRE: Well, CIA Director William Burns certainly thinks so. He gave a rare public speech in Britain over the weekend and said Russians are increasingly disenchanted with the war, and he believes the CIA can capitalize on this. Let's have a listen.


WILLIAM BURNS: That disaffection creates a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us at CIA - at our core, a human intelligence service. We're not letting it go to waste.

MYRE: So this is not something you hear often from a spy chief.


MYRE: He's openly saying that he thinks the Russians - some Russians in key positions may be ready and willing to turn on the Russian government and work for the U.S. as spies. In fact, the CIA has put out a video on the Telegram app telling Russians how they can contact the CIA securely. It's also the latest example of the U.S. intelligence community openly talking about what it's thinking and doing when it comes to Russia. Burns called it a, quote, "novel and effective strategy" that has limited Russia's ability to create false narratives.

SCHMITZ: That's fascinating. Let's turn to Ukraine's offensive. What's the latest on that front?

MYRE: Yeah. A top Ukrainian official said this morning that the past few days of the offensive have been, quote, "particularly fruitful." This comes in a tweet from the head of the National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov. And it's really the most upbeat assessment by a Ukrainian official we've heard in a while. Now, he didn't announce the capture of any additional territory, but he said Ukraine was achieving, quote, "the maximum destruction of manpower, equipment, fuel depots, military vehicles and command posts." We can't independently verify it - not hearing it from other Ukrainian officials, but it would be in keeping with Ukraine's effort to weaken Russian forces before making a big push with the bulk of its forces.

SCHMITZ: That's NPR's Greg Myre in Kyiv. Greg, thank you.

MYRE: Sure thing, Rob. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rob Schmitz
Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.
Greg Myre
Greg Myre is a national security correspondent with a focus on the intelligence community, a position that follows his many years as a foreign correspondent covering conflicts around the globe.