Kyiv, Ukraine — Drones struck inside the Russia-Ukraine border on Tuesday in the second day of attacks, exposing the vulnerability of some of Moscow’s most important military sites, observers said.
Ukrainian officials have not officially confirmed carrying out drone strikes inside Russia, and they have maintained ambiguity about previous high-profile attacks.
But Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhail Podolyak taunted Moscow in comments on Twitter, and the UK Ministry of Defense said Russia was likely to consider attacks on Russian bases more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) from the border. with Ukraine as “some of the most strategically significant failures”. of force protection since its invasion of Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian authorities “will take the necessary steps” to strengthen the protection of key facilities. Russian bloggers who usually maintain contact with military officials in their country have criticized the lack of defensive measures.
“If something is launched in the airspace of other countries, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to the starting point,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhail Podolyak told Moscow in comments on Twitter. “The earth is round.”
A fire broke out at an airport in southern Russia’s Kursk region bordering Ukraine after a drone hit the facility, the region’s governor announced on Tuesday. In a second incident, an industrial plant 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the Ukrainian border was also targeted by drones, which missed a fuel depot at the site, Russian independent media reported.
Moscow blamed Kyiv for unprecedented attacks on two airbases in the heart of Russia on Monday. The attacks on the Engels base in the Saratov region on the Volga and the Dyagilevo base in the Ryazan region in western Russia were among the most brazen in Russia during the war.
In the aftermath, Russian troops carried out another wave of missile strikes on Ukrainian territory, hitting homes and buildings and killing civilians, compounding damage to electrical and other infrastructure during weeks of missile attacks.
About half of households in the Kyiv region remain without power, the regional governor said on Tuesday, while authorities in southern Odessa say they have managed to restore electricity to hospitals and some vital services.
In yet another show of defiance from Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited an eastern town near the frontline. On the Day of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Zelensky visited the eastern region of Donetsk and pledged to push Russian forces out of all Ukrainian territory.
“Everyone sees your strength and talent. … I am grateful to your parents. They have raised real heroes,” Zelenskyy said Tuesday in a video address to Ukrainian forces from the city of Sloviansk, a key Ukrainian stronghold in the east.
A pro-war Russian blogger posted on the “Milinfolive” Telegram channel on Monday denounced Russian military leaders, alleging that incompetence and a lack of proper fortifications at airbases made Ukrainian drone strikes possible.
The Russian Defense Ministry said three Russian servicemen were killed and four others injured by debris, and two planes were slightly damaged.
Pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov said the strikes “raised questions about the security of Russian military airbases.”
The Engels base hosts Tu-95 and Tu-160 nuclear-capable strategic bombers that have been involved in strikes against Ukraine. Dyagilevo is home to tanker aircraft used for aerial refueling.
In a daily intelligence update on the war in Ukraine, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said the bombers would likely be dispersed to other airfields.
Speaking on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Peskov said the “Ukrainian regime’s continuation of such terror attacks poses a threat.”
Peskov reiterated that Russia sees no prospect for peace talks at this time, adding that “the Russian Federation must achieve its stated goals.”
Russia, meanwhile, has maintained intense attacks on Ukrainian territory, bombing towns overnight near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, leaving more than 9,000 homes without running water, local Ukrainian officials said.
The towns lie across the Dnieper River from the nuclear power plant, which was seized by Russian forces early in the war. Russia and Ukraine have accused each other for months of shelling on and around the plant.
The head of the Sumy region in northern Ukraine, which borders Russia, said Moscow had launched more than 80 missile and heavy artillery attacks on its territory. Governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said the strikes damaged a monastery near the border town of Shalyhyne.
Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said the country’s ability to shoot down incoming missiles was improving, noting that there had been no recent reports of the use of Iranian-made attack drones on Ukrainian territory.
He declined to comment on the damage to the two Russian airbases, adding: “We will have to wait for satellite photos and open source information.”
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