Explosions have rocked two Russian airbases far from the frontlines as Kyiv appeared to launch a pre-emptive strike on bombers that the Kremlin has used to try to cripple the Ukrainian electrical grid.
The Russian defence ministry confirmed the attacks on Monday, blaming them on Ukraine and saying two warplanes were damaged. For Kyiv the strike represented an unprecedented operation deep inside Russia to disrupt the Kremlin strategy of provoking a humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine on the verge of winter.
Russian media reports and video posted to social media indicated that an explosion occurred early on Monday morning at the Engels-2 airbase in Russia’s Saratov region, which hosts Tu-95 bombers that have taken part in cruise missile strikes against Ukraine.
Another explosion took place at the Dyagilevo military airbase near Ryazan, a city less than 150 miles from Moscow. Three people were killed and five wounded after a fuel truck exploded, Russian state media reported. That base also hosts Tu-95 long-range bombers.
Soon after the blasts at the air bases, Russia launched a long anticipated mass strike against Ukraine, involving air and sea launched missiles from both the Black and Caspian Seas.