LVIV (Ukraine) – Three Russian servicemen were killed in a drone attack by the Ukrainians on a Russian military base. Moscow claimed that this was the latest demonstration of Kyiv’s ability to strike Russian military targets.
This is the second strike of the month at the Engels airbase in Saratov, which is a hub for Russia’s strategic bombers. Even though it was a small strike, it served as a reminder for Moscow that even forces deep within its territory could be attacked. This forced the Kremlin’s leaders to redirect their resources and attention.
This attack is also indicative of a war raging far away from the front lines. Russia launches drones and missiles to attempt to destroy Ukraine’s infrastructure and power grid. This will affect the morale of Ukrainian civilians. Apparently, Russia is also being targeted by apparent Ukrainian attacks.
The incident was not immediately reported by Kyiv. Usually, Ukraine doesn’t claim responsibility for Russian attacks.
Kyiv has tried to remind the Kremlin repeatedly that even though its forces are occupying large areas of Ukraine and causing havoc in people’s daily lives, Russia must also remain vigilant. The sinking of the Russian warship Moskva in April, which was the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, and the attack on Russia’s bridge over the Kerch Strait in October were two of the most important reminders. However, Ukraine has continued to drumbeat many smaller strikes and incursions.
Russia’s Defense Ministry stated that a Ukrainian drone flying over Russia was shot down by Russian air defenses overnight as it approached the base. The ministry stated that three servicemen were killed by falling debris, but that no warplanes were destroyed.
Russian social media channels reported that residents heard an explosion and saw fire at the base located 350 miles away from the Ukrainian border. Russia claimed in the past that no aircraft had been damaged by Ukrainian attacks. Satellite images proved them wrong.
Russian officials stated that Ukrainian drones had struck Engels and another Ryazan base, injuring four service personnel and killing three others.
Engels was used for launching missile strikes and air raids on Ukraine. According to military analysts, Russia used long-range aircraft at the base in order to launch cruise missiles against Ukraine. These bombers can also carry nuclear weapons and are part of Russia’s trinity of nuclear forces which includes submarine-launched and land-based nuclear missiles.
The Federal Security Service claimed they stopped one such attack, a sign that Russian security agencies are trying to comply with the Kremlin’s demands. According to the service, they killed four Ukrainian saboteurs, who were carrying machine guns and explosives, as they tried to cross the Russian border in Bryansk, southwest of Moscow.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for greater security in Russia’s intelligence services when it comes to spies, traitors, and saboteurs.
The east of Ukraine saw heavy fighting. Russia sought to seize Bakhmut, in eastern Donetsk, while Ukraine pressed further north in Luhansk.
In recent months, Ukraine retook large swathes of territory in the north and south of the country. However, the progress in winter for the Ukrainians in Luhansk as well as the Russians around Bakhmut has been slower.
Serhiy Haidai (the top Ukrainian official in Luhansk) stated that Ukrainian troops were closing in on Kreminna, and fighting the Russians close by.
“The Ukrainian forces have the advantage. They are moving forward,” Mr. Haidai stated.
According to Mr. Haidai, the situation was complicated for civilians living in areas that were recently retaken by the Ukrainian army because Russia was bombarding them. He said that the Ukrainian authorities are helping to evacuate the wounded and provide food and medicine for those who remain.
Russia’s top military officers announced that the country would increase its defense and air capabilities. This announcement comes after Mr. Putin said Sunday that Moscow is still committed to the war and that the Russian people are ready to endure a prolonged conflict. Putin recently also promised to give the Russian military all the means necessary to win.
Putin hosted a meeting of heads of the Commonwealth of Independent States in St. Petersburg. This intergovernmental organization includes 12 countries including Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. Putin spoke out about their security and cultural cooperation. He also encouraged the use of Russian as an international communication medium.
Russia is “a powerful bonding force that unites our multinational states,” he said, adding that new programs will be launched next year to support it. The Kremlin had previously mentioned the protection of Russian culture and language as the main reason for its attack against Ukraine.