Ukraine attacked an airbase in Russia’s Saratov region, which lies about 500 kilometers (310 miles) northeast of the border with Ukraine, with a drone.
Three Russian military personnel were killed at Engels bomber base, Russian news agencies reported, citing the defense ministry.
Engels airbase, 🇷🇺, "real alarm. Don't sleep! Run for cover!" pic.twitter.com/AOnYrkCZU8
— M|§F|T 🇺🇸🇺🇦 (@am_misfit) December 25, 2022
Russian state media agency Tass quotes the defense ministry as saying:
On December 26, at around 01:35 Moscow time (2235 GMT), a Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down at low altitude while approaching the Engels military airfield in the Saratov region.
As a result of the fall of the wreckage of the drone, three Russian technical servicemen who were at the airfield were fatally injured.
— Liveuamap (@Liveuamap) December 26, 2022
Russia accused Ukraine of carrying out a similar attack on the airfield, home to strategic bombers, on December 5th. In that attack, three servicemen were also killed by debris from a downed Ukrainian drone, Moscow said at the time. Two aircraft were lightly damaged.
Ukraine develops drone technology to hit deep into Russia
According to Reuters, the twin strikes dealt Russia a major reputational blow and raised questions about why its defenses failed, analysts said, as attention turned to the use of drones in the war between neighbors.
Ukraine has never publicly claimed responsibility for attacks in Russia, but has said, however, that such incidents are “karma” for Russia’s invasion.
As CNN reported recently, Ukraine’s state-owned weapons manufacturer, Ukroboronprom, has indicated several times in the last few weeks that it is close to finishing work on a new long-range drone.
In October, it posted on Facebook, along with an image of what appeared to be part of the drone’s structure: “Range is 1000 km (621 miles), weight of the combat unit is 75 kg (165 pounds). Putting the final touches on this one.”
The attack on the Russian airbase comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow is ready to negotiate with all parties involved in the conflict in Ukraine, but Kyiv and its Western backers have refused to engage in talks.
“We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them – we are not the ones refusing to negotiate – they are,” the Russian President said.
“I believe that we are acting in the right direction,” he added. “We are defending our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people. And we have no other choice but to protect our citizens.”