Authorities in the Russian city of Kursk, located near Ukraine, released footage showing black smoke rising from the airport early Tuesday morning after the latest attack. The governor said a fuel depot was hit but there were no casualties.
The incident came a day after Russia confirmed two Soviet-made drone strikes: at Engels Air Base, where the giant strategic bombers are built, and in Ryazan, a few hours from Moscow. Kiev did not claim responsibility for the attacks, but celebrated them.
“If Russia decides these incidents were premeditated attacks, it will be seen as one of the most strategically important failures to protect its forces since the invasion of Ukraine began,” the British Ministry of Defense said. “The Russian command line will seek to identify and impose severe sanctions on the Russian officials responsible for the execution of this incident.”
Three soldiers were killed in the attack in Ryazan, the Russian Defense Ministry said. Although the bombings were aimed at military targets, Moscow defined them as terrorism and said their aim was to disrupt its long-haul air service.
oh The New York TimesA senior Ukrainian official was quoted as saying that the drones used in Monday’s attacks were launched from Ukrainian territory and that at least one strike was achieved near the base with the help of special forces.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Russian border. Asked about the blasts, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov responded with a typical joke, saying that explosions at Russian bases were caused by careless smokers.
“Russians often smoke in places where smoking is prohibited,” he said.
Presidential adviser Oleksii Arestovich went further and noted that Engels is Russia’s only fully armed base for the large-scale bombers Russia has been using in attacks against Ukraine.
“They will try to disperse [a aviação estratégica] to other airfields, but this complicates action against Ukraine. “Yesterday, thanks to careless smokers, we achieved a very important result,” he said.
In Russia, some military commentators said on social media that if Ukraine had the capability to strike targets deep inside Russian territory, it could target Moscow.
“The ability of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to strike military targets within the territory of the Russian Federation has a very symbolic and important meaning,” Ukrainian military analyst Serhii Zgurets said in an article on the Espreso TV website.
The giant Tupolev long-range bombers that Russia maintains at Engels Air Base are a key part of its strategic nuclear arsenal, similar to the B-52s used by the United States during the Cold War. Russia has been using waves to destroy the Ukrainian power grid in its campaign that began in October Weekly bombings.
Engels’ site near the city of Saratov is 600 kilometers from the nearest Ukrainian territory.
Russia responded to Monday’s attacks with what it described as “massive bombings against the Ukrainian military control system.” The blasts destroyed homes and caused power outages, but their impact appears less severe than last month’s attacks, which left millions of Ukrainians without electricity and cold.
Ukraine’s air force said it hit more than 60 of the 70 missiles fired.
The missile left a large crater in the village of Novosobivka, 25 kilometers east of the city of Zaporizhia in southern Ukraine, and completely destroyed a nearby house. Emergency services workers removed two bodies from the mangled car.
Olga Droshina, 62, said the dead were her neighbors who were near their car saying goodbye to their son and daughter-in-law when the missile hit. Now that houses have been destroyed and winter is approaching, the woman doesn’t know where to go.
“We have nowhere to turn,” he said. “If it’s spring or summer it won’t be a problem. If it’s summer we can do something, but what am I going to do now?
Ukraine has warned of emergency blackouts in several regions, while repairs to the damaged power grid are underway.
At least four people have died in recent Russian bombings, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. “There will be emergency blackout again in many regions,” he said during a video broadcast. “We will do everything to restore stability,” he added.
Calling the invasion a “special military operation” to topple nationalists, Russia says the attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure have military justification. Kiev says the bombings had no military purpose and were intended to harm civilians, a war crime.
“Every missile attack only increases our resistance,” the defense minister said. “Also, they increase the willingness of our partners to support us,” he added.
The U.S. said it would hold a virtual meeting with oil and gas executives on Thursday to discuss ways to support Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, according to a letter read by Reuters.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Russia will lose its “current gamble to get the Ukrainian people to lay down their arms.”