Fears of a possible attack on Moscow has reportedly grown among Kremlin officials after a drone attack on an airfield in Russia’s Kursk region, set fire to an oil storage tank Tuesday December 6, a day after Russia accused Ukraine of audacious drone attacks on two military airfields deep inside Russian territory.
Roman Starovoyt, the governor of the Kursk region which shares borders with Ukraine, said on the Telegram messaging app there were no casualties from the attack and the fire was “localised”.
On Monday, December 5, Russia’s defence ministry said that Ukrainian drones attacked two air bases at Ryazan and Saratov in south-central Russia on Monday, killing three servicemen and wounding four, and damaging two aircraft.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for any of the attacks and if it was behind them, the strikes would be the deepest inside Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
A report by the New York Times, citing a senior Ukrainian official, said the drones involved in Monday’s attacks were launched from Ukrainian territory, and at least one of the strikes was made with the help of special forces close to the base.
Russia’s defence ministry said Monday’s attacks were acts of terrorism intended to disable long-range aircraft, and the low-flying drones were shot down. The deaths were reported on the Ryazan base, 185 km (115 miles) southeast of Moscow.
Saratov is about 600 km (370 miles) from the nearest Ukrainian territory.
According to reports from Russian media houses, commentators on Russian tv said that if Ukraine could strike that far inside Russia, it might also be capable of hitting Moscow.
— Nexx_ (@_Nex3_) December 6, 2022
Ukrainian military analyst Serhiy Zgurets said the air force bases hit on Monday were the only facilities in Russia that could fully service bombers used to launch attacks on Ukraine.
“It is still too early to say what is at issue here, but the ability of the armed forces of Ukraine to reach military targets deep in the territory of the Russian Federation has a very symbolic and important meaning,” he wrote on the Espreso TV website.
Russia responded to Monday’s attacks with a “massive strike on the military control system” and other targets using high-precision air- and sea-based weapons in which all 17 objectives were hit, Russia’s defence ministry said.
The strikes, which plunged parts of Ukraine back into freezing darkness with temperatures below zero Celsius (32 Fahrenheit), were the latest in weeks of attacks hitting critical infrastructure.
Russia has been attacking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure regularly since early October in what it says is a bid to degrade its military. Ukraine says such attacks are aimed at civilians and constitute war crimes.