Russia says it downed Ukraine-launched drones targeting Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the development of unmanned aircraft in Moscow

(Reuters) - Russia shot down at least three Ukraine-launched drones early Tuesday that were targeting the country's capital, the Russian defence ministry said.

The ministry said that its air defence systems destroyed two drones over the Kaluga and Tver regions, which border the Moscow region, as well as one closer to the capital, over the Istra district of the Moscow region.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that the drones "were trying to carry out an attack on Moscow" and that a consumer services facility was damaged in the Istra district, which is located some 65 km (40 miles) northwest of the Kremlin.

There was no damage or casualties elsewhere, the mayor defence ministry said. Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

Sobyanin said that drone debris in the Tver region fell in the Zavidovo village. According to RIA state news agency, Zavidodvo is home to "Rus", an official residence palace of the Russian president.

President Vladimir Putin's main residences are the Novo-Ogaryovo residence in the Moscow region as well as the Grand Kremlin Palace - where official events are held.

Russian news agencies reported that almost 50 flights were cancelled or postponed early Tuesday from the four major airports around the capital - Vnukovo, Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo and Zhukovsky.

Drone attacks on Russian targets, especially in Crimea - annexed by Moscow in 2014 - and in regions bordering Ukraine, have become almost a daily occurrences since two drones were destroyed over the Kremlin in early May.

The attacks have disrupted flights in and out of Moscow in recent weeks. Ukraine rarely takes direct responsibility for such drone strikes but says destroying Russian military infrastructure helps a counteroffensive Kyiv began in June.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Stephen Coates & Simon Cameron-Moore)