Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for Russian president Vladimir Putin’s administration, has declined to comment on the appearance of anti-aircraft systems on the rooftops of buildings across Moscow.
“Here I want to fully redirect you to the Ministry of Defense. They bear the responsibility for providing security of the country in general and the capital in particular,” Peskov said, according to Russian news agency RBC.
Several Pantsir anti-aircraft systems were installed on the roofs of various buildings in Moscow on January 19, 2023.
One of them has been placed on the roof of the National Defense Management Center of Russian Ministry of Defense, and another on top of an administrative building belonging to Russia’s Ministry of Education. Both locations are in the central part of the city, in close proximity to the Kremlin.
There have been reports about more air defense systems being spotted in other locations in and around Moscow. However, these remain unconfirmed.
In early January 2023 another newly-deployed Pantsir system was spotted in Moscow’s urban region Zarechye, a prestigious upper-class district which houses villas belonging to numerous Russian government officials, including a retreat reportedly belonging to Putin.
The deployment of the defenses has been neither officially acknowledged nor explained by the government.
A series of deep strikes
Some reports connect the appearance of these systems in Moscow to earlier strikes deep inside Russian territory, often attributed to Ukrainian armed forces.
Notably, two Russian strategic bomber bases were attacked in the early morning of December 5, 2022. Russian officials claimed that Ukrainian drones were successfully shot down, though some damage to aircraft on the ground has been confirmed by visual evidence.
A day later, a Russian oil storage facility and an oil plant in areas neighboring Ukraine were attacked, causing major fires.
Following the strikes, several Russian analysts and pundits said there were major gaps in Russian air defense due to redeployment of anti-aircraft systems to the frontline in Ukraine.