Russian airfield near Ukraine border hit by drone, regional authorities say

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A drone attack on an airfield in Russia near the border with Ukraine caused an oil storage tank to catch fire, local authorities said on Tuesday, a day after Moscow accused Kyiv of carrying out two long-range unmanned aircraft strikes on air bases deep inside the country.

Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for the attacks but they appear to demonstrate Ukraine’s capacity to hit military targets hundreds of kilometres behind the front lines as it fights back against President Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

“The Ukrainian regime’s openly declared line to continue these terrorist attacks is, of course, a factor of danger,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “It is being taken into account and the essential measures are being taken,” he told reporters.

Tuesday’s attack was on an airfield in Kursk, about 100km from the Ukrainian border, which local governor Roman Starovoit said left no casualties.

Russia has said it is undeterred by the attacks and intends to press on with its faltering campaign, even though its army has depleted its cache of weapons, sustained heavy casualties and made a series of humiliating retreats — including from provinces Putin had annexed only weeks before.

Putin has responded to Ukraine’s advances and increasingly daring strikes deep into Russian territory with a series of crippling missile and air barrages on the country’s energy infrastructure.

Sergei Shoigu, Russian defence minister, said on Tuesday that the country’s armed forces were “carrying out massed strikes with long-range high-precision weaponry on the military command system, military-industrial complex facilities and related targets to destroy Ukraine’s military potential”, according to Interfax.

The attacks have left major cities across Ukraine without electricity, heat and running water in an attempt to demoralise the country’s population and send a fresh wave of Ukrainian refugees fleeing into Europe — which Russia hopes will undermine the west’s support for Kyiv.

Though Russia did not accuse Ukraine of the Kursk attack, the drone strikes came after it accused Ukraine of making its deepest incursions into Russian airspace yet a day earlier.

Monday’s strikes at the Ryazan and Engels air bases, more than 450km east of the front lines, killed three people and damaged several aircraft.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Monday that the explosions came after it shot down the drones, which it claimed were Soviet-made unmanned aircraft flying at low altitude.

In October, Putin declared heightened alert levels in Kursk and seven other regions bordering Ukraine, which have periodically come under drone attacks and artillery fire since the early weeks of the war.

Source: Financial Times

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