Explosions rocked two Russian military airbases hundreds of miles from the border with Ukraine on Monday, according to local officials and state media.
The unexplained explosions were reported at bases involved in launching attacks on Ukraine just hours before the latest barrage of Russian airstrikes forced residents of the capital, Kyiv, and towns across the country to shelter as the sirens sounded.
Power and water outages were felt from Sumy in the northeast to Odessa in the southwest while at least two people were killed in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy chief from the president’s office, in a Telegram message.
Moscow has always denied targeting civilians, but while such strikes have become an increasingly common feature of Kremlin warfare, explosions deep within Russia are more unusual.
Early on Monday, several explosions occurred at the Engels airbase near the southwestern Russian city of Saratov, local media reported, as residents heard a loud bang.
Russian authorities said they were investigating media reports of the explosions at the base. It is home to the Tu-95 and Tu-160 nuclear-capable strategic bombers that have been involved in strikes against Ukraine, according to the Associated Press.
“There are reports of a strong explosion and an early morning flash in Engels spreading through social networks and the media,” Saratov Governor Roman Busargin said in a message on Telegram. “There is no reason to worry. Not a single object of civilian infrastructure was damaged,” he said.
Separately, a tanker exploded at an airfield near the western Russian city of Ryazan, a spokesman for the emergency services was quoted by the official RIA Novosti news agency as saying. At least three soldiers were killed and three others injured, and a plane was also damaged, they said.
The base houses long-range flight tankers that are used to refuel bombers in the air, according to the AP.
Ryazan officials did not comment on the explosion and NBC News did not verify the reports.
The origin of the blasts is unclear, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying only that President Vladimir Putin “regularly receives information” when asked about the blasts in his daily press appeal.
Although Ukraine has not taken responsibility, officials made vague references in social media posts that hinted the incident could potentially signal a new ability for Kyiv to strike deep within Russia. . Both airbases are located more than 300 miles from the border.
“The Earth is round – discovery made by Galileo. Astronomy was not studied in the Kremlin, giving preference to court astrologers. If so, they would know: if something is thrown into the airspace of other countries, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to the starting point,” presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak said in a statement. Tweeter.
“Engels Airfield is one of the most important bases of the Russian Air Force,” Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said in a statement. Tweeter. “Two strategic bomber regiments are stationed here, which are part of Russia’s aerial nuclear deterrent tactics,” he said.
Moscow has lost more than 60 planes since the start of the war on February 24, the British Ministry of Defense announced in its statement on Monday. information updateadding that air missions had fallen from 300 a day in March to just a few dozen a day.
In a separate space Tweeterhe also said Ukraine had regained control of more than half of its territory captured by Russia since February.
Analysts said it was unclear whether the new wave of Russian strikes were in any way retaliation for the explosions at airbases.
“They’re going to attack the country as much as possible,” Rajan Menon, director of Defense Priorities, a Washington-based think tank, told NBC News on a call from Kyiv. “If it hadn’t been for the strike on the base, they would have found other reasons to do it,” he said.
Artem Grudinin contributed.