Russia fears ‘Moscow is under attack’ as Ukraine strikes air bases

Vladimir Putin drives car across the Crimean bridge

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Ukrainian forces have used drones to strike two air bases hundreds of miles into Russian territory, the Russian Ministry of Defence has admitted, prompting military commentators to admit that Zelensky’s forces could have managed to cross over the border. On Monday, Engels-2 airbase and the Dyagilevo Air Base, both in western Russia and housing strategic bomber fleets used by Putin to bomb Ukrainian cities, were struck by what the MoD claimed were “Soviet-made drones”. Huge plumes of smoke poured from a damaged Russian fuel truck in Dyagilevo, located in the Kursk region, and Russian military bloggers reported that at least two Tu-95MS missile carriers had been destroyed in the Engels-2 airbase. 

Ukrainian forces used Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to strike the Engels-2 airbase in Saratov Oblast, which is roughly 315 miles from Ukrainian territory, and the Dyagilevo Air Base in Ryazan Oblast, which is 285 miles from Ukrainian territory. 

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks but Russian officials accused their opponents of “attempting to strike”. 

Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Mikhail Podolyak tweeted that the Kremlin should have known that “if something is launched into other countries’ airspace, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to departure point”. 

The Russian Ministry of Defence claimed that the drones had all been intercepted but debris from the collisions had fallen on the airfields and caused explosions. Three Russian soldiers had been killed by the strikes while four others had been injured, they added. 

According to Roman Starovoyt, Governor of the Kursk Oblast, the drone attack in his region set fire to an oil storage tank. He said: “There were no casualties. The fire is localised. All emergency services working at the site.” 

In a video posted on social media in the early hours of Tuesday morning, plumes of black smoke could be seen rising above the airbase in the Kursk region. 

The two attacks have caused panic among Russian military bloggers, with one of the most read outlets on Telegram claiming Ukrainian forces had crossed into Russian territory and “had already reached the banks of Volga”, which is a river that flows the horizontal length of Russia near Moscow. 

News source and military blogger Readovka wrote: “With a high degree of probability, the drone worked from our territory, which means that enemy DRGs have already reached the banks of the Volga. 

“If the drone came from Ukraine, then our enemy already has technology with a range of 1000 km, which means that Moscow is under attack.

“There is only one conclusion: counter-terrorism measures on the territory of the Russian Federation should be strengthened to the maximum, retaliation strikes should be continued tenfold.”

The post had been viewed more than 375,000 times at the time of writing this article. 

Meanwhile, Russia launched further strikes on Monday night on the Zaporizhia region, where a nuclear power plant is located. 

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Oleksandr Starukh, the head of Zaporizhiya’s regional military administration, posted photographs on Telegram in the early hours of Tuesday, December 6 showing the aftermath of the attacks. 

The strikes damaged critical infrastructure and residential buildings, he said. At this stage there were no injuries or fatalities.

The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian air defences shot down 60 of over 70 missiles launched on Monday. 

But according to analysis by the Institute for the Study of War, while Ukrainian and Western-provided air defences are further reducing Russia’s dwindling supply of precision munitions, the small percentage of Russian strikes getting through Ukraine’s air defences are nevertheless having significant effects on Ukrainian critical infrastructure.

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