A giant fireball erupted close to Vladimir Putin’s war command headquarters after kamikaze drones blasted a Russian city.
A state of emergency was declared in Rostov-on-Don, which lies near Russian-occupied Ukraine.
The drones triggered a massive explosion – sparking a huge fire near the military HQ which the dictator is reported to have visited several times during the war.
Huge plumes of smoke could be seen filling the air above the city following the overnight blast.
Three buildings and several cars were damaged in the attack according to Rostov region governor Vasily Golubev.
Around 20 blocks of flats on Pushkinskaya Street were left without electricity.
Reports said dozens of residents were given hot food and offered to leave their homes.
The war command bunker is at the HQ of Russia’s Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don.
In June, slain Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin began his attempted coup against Putin’s regime at the site, later staging a march towards Moscow.
Russian officials claimed a drone targeting the city centre had been shot down.
However, it was unclear if this was the case or whether it evaded air defences.
Another drone meanwhile came down outside the city.
Golubev said: “At about 3am an air defence system went off in Rostov-on-Don.
“An unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down. The consequences on the ground are being clarified.”
He later added: “At the site of the UAV crash…an emergency mode was introduced from 9am.
“99 people live in these three blocks. Meals will be organised for them.”
Putin used the war command post in Rostov as a backdrop for his New Year message to Russians, flanked by troops.
In all, at least seven kamikaze drones attacked Russia during the night.
One hit Ramenskoye near Moscow – allegedly a Ukrainian Beaver drone capable of flying up to 620 miles.
Russian authorities claimed they had shot it down, causing damage to a high rise residential building.
The attack triggered the closure of air space in Moscow, causing major flight disruption at the city’s four international airports.
The capital’s mayor Sergey Sobyanin said: “Tonight in the Ramenskoye urban district, air defence forces thwarted an attempted drone attack on Moscow.”
The railway station in Bryansk – capital of a region bordering Ukraine – was also damaged by a drone attack.
It comes amid a series of drone attacks pummeling Russia.
Earlier this week, a drone was downed close to Putin’s secret hunting palace as the war inches closer to his doorstep.
Dramatic footage showed a huge explosion over trees in the Zavidovo district of Russia’s Tver region.
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