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Ukrainian drone attacks hit airbases in Russia. Here’s what that means.


A new explosion hit an air base in Russia on Tuesday, the latest in a string of apparent Ukrainian drone attacks that show an ability to strike deep into Russian territory and could mark a new boldness in Kyiv’s response to the war. from Moscow.

An airfield in Kursk, in southwestern Russia, was set on fire on Tuesday morning, with regional governor Roman Starovoit saying the incident was the result of a drone attack.

Photos and video verified by NBC News showed a large fire at the airfield caused by a suspected damaged tanker, with smoke trailing for miles in the sky in the area, which borders Ukraine.

Similar explosions were seen Monday at the Engels air base outside the city of Saratov and in Ryazan, just 200 km southwest of Moscow and hundreds of kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

The Engels base is home to the Russian strategic bomber fleet of Tu-160 and Tu-95 aircraft, which have been used in long-range bombing missions in Ukraine and can be adapted to carry nuclear weapons.

Ukraine has not directly claimed responsibility, but officials have jokingly suggested its military may be behind the incidents. The Russian Defense Ministry blamed Kyiv forces for the two explosions on Monday, in which it said three “maintenance personnel” died and two planes were damaged.

Analysts were cautious about the military impact of apparent attacks on strategic sites away from the front lines, but said they had further undermined Russia’s confidence in the country’s air defenses while providing a boost of timely morale to Ukrainian civilians enduring a long winter under bombardment.

“The signal is important for Ukrainians: they need to know that they are fighting back, given the pain, devastation and general discomfort that is being inflicted in Ukraine,” said Matthew Ford, associate professor at the University. Swedish Defense Force in Stockholm. , told NBC News.

“It is important from a moral point of view that certain Russian strategic resources are targeted.”

Russia has the firepower to continue bombing Ukraine, he added. “It can be a pain, but they can move planes and infrastructure, they can increase security around airbases.”

The attacks were inflicted, according to the Kremlin, by “Soviet-made UAVs”, or unmanned aerial vehicles. This suggests that Ukraine is not using the billions of dollars in lethal aid it has received from the United States and other Western allies in attacks on Russian soil, which Washington says could trigger a escalation.

nbcnews Gt

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