Ukraine hits major Russian air base a day after kamikaze drone crashed down just 68 miles from the Kremlin

Ukraine hits major Russian air base a day after kamikaze drone crashed down just 68 miles from the Kremlin
Опубликовано: Wednesday, 01 March 2023 14:27

Ukraine is suspected to have struck a major Russian air base in Yeysk after massive explosions at the site, in yet another attack deep behind Moscow’s frontlines.

Russian war channel Rybar admitted a hit on Telegram, claiming it was by a Ukrainian long range Tu-141 Strizh drone.

Ukrainian sources also claimed the strike at the military airfield in Krasnodar region, and a picture appeared to show an explosion. ‘Residents assume that it could even be missiles hitting the airfield,’ said one account.

Russian officials have denied a strike but locals reported two loud explosions.

Then black smoke was seen billowing from the airfield which is a base for strike aircraft used against Ukraine in Vladimir Putin’s war.

One local news group carried a message saying: ‘Something exploded twice, and there was fire. There was an explosion at the airfield,’ stated Rybar channel, admitting a Ukrainian attempt on the Yeysk base.

‘According to preliminary data, a Tu-141 Swift UAV was struck down. There was a strike on the territory of the base but none of the aircraft were hit.

‘However, this attack is unlikely to be the only one. With a high degree of probability, attempts will continue.’

The Russian authorities failed to agree on the cause of the explosions in Yeysk, which is on the Sea of Azov. One account said grass was being burned.

Another from local official Roman Bublik said there had been ‘military drills’. One more report said that nothing had happened.

The scale of damage in Yeysk was unclear.

Among the warplanes stationed here are Sukhoi Su-34 bombers.

Ukraine has this week increased its attacks on Russia.

On Tuesday the airspace around St Petersburg was abruptly closed after a flying object – a suspected long range drone – was reported in the vicinity.

Nothing was found but there were also attacks reported on Belgorod, Tuapse, and the Republic of Adygea.

Another came within 60 miles of Moscow, signalling breaches in Russian defenses, as President Putin ordered stepped-up protection at the border.

Officials claimed the drones caused no injuries and did not inflict any significant damage, but the attacks on Monday night and Tuesday morning raised questions about Russian defence capabilities more than a year after the country’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour.

Ukrainian officials did not immediately take responsibility, but they similarly have avoided directly acknowledging responsibility for past strikes and sabotage while emphasising Ukraine’s right to hit any target in Russia.

Although Putin did not refer to any specific attacks in a speech in the Russian capital, his comments came hours after the drones targeted several areas in southern and western Russia, and after authorities closed the airspace over St. Petersburg.

Also on Tuesday, several Russian television stations aired a missile attack warning that officials blamed on a hacking attack.

The drone attacks targeted regions inside Russia along the border with Ukraine and deeper into the country, according to local Russian authorities.

A drone fell near the village of Gubastovo, less than 60 miles from Moscow, Andrei Vorobyov, governor of the region surrounding the Russian capital, said in an online statement. The drone did not cause any damage, Vorobyov said, but it likely targeted ‘a civilian infrastructure object.’

Pictures of the drone showed it was a small Ukrainian-made model with a reported range of up to 500 miles, but no capacity to carry a large load of explosives.

Russian forces early Tuesday shot down another Ukrainian drone over the Bryansk region, local Gov. Aleksandr Bogomaz said in a Telegram post.

Three drones also targeted Russia’s Belgorod region on Monday night, with one flying through an apartment window in the capital, local authorities reported.

Regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said the drones caused minor damage to buildings and cars.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Ukraine used drones to attack facilities in the Krasnodar region and neighboring Adygea.

It said the drones were brought down by electronic warfare assets, adding that one of them crashed into a field and another diverted from its flight path and missed a facility it was supposed to attack.

Russia’s state RIA Novosti news agency reported a fire at the oil facility, and some other Russian reports said that two drones exploded nearby.

While Ukrainian drone strikes on the Russian border regions of Bryansk and Belgorod have become a regular occurrence, other strikes reflected a more ambitious effort.

Some Russian commentators described the drone attacks as an attempt by Ukraine to showcase its capability to strike deep behind the lines, foment tensions in Russia and rally the Ukrainian public. Some Russian war bloggers described the raids as a possible rehearsal for a bigger, more ambitious attack.

News of the strike on Wednesday in Russia came as Putin’s forces carried out relentless attacks on the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut on Wednesday in their quest for a breakthrough in the year-long war.

However, one US official predicted few short-term territorial gains for Russia.

Bakhmut had a population of about 70,000 before the war but has been ruined during months of fighting as a focal point of Russian assaults and determined Ukrainian defence.

‘The enemy continues to advance in the direction of Bakhmut. He does not stop storming the city of Bakhmut,’ the Ukrainian military said in a morning briefing.

A Russian takeover of the small mining city would open the way to seizing the last remaining urban centres in the industrial Donetsk province.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a video address late on Tuesday, said the battle for Bakhmut was ‘most difficult’ but its defence was essential.

‘Russia in general takes no account of people and sends them in constant waves against our positions, the intensity of the fighting is only increasing,’ Zelenskiy said.

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said Russian forces had driven a wedge between two villages north of Bakhmut, Berkhivka and Yahidne, in their bid to surround the city.

‘This breakthrough on Bakhmut’s northern flank poses a clear threat to us,’ he said in comments posted on social media.

Although most of the Russian attacks were focused on Bakhmut and other towns and villages in Donetsk, the Ukrainian military said its forces had repelled 85 Russian attacks on different sections of the front line over the past day.

Reuters news agency said it was not able to verify battlefield reports.

Russia’s state-run RIA news agency released a video clip it said showed Russian Su-25 fighter jets roaring over Bakhmut.

‘We are glad they are ours,’ says a man in the clip identified as a fighter of the mercenary Wagner Group, adding the jets helped them ‘psychologically’.

Ukrainian aircraft launched three strikes on areas of concentration of Russian forces, the Ukrainian military said in a statement on Tuesday night.


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