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'Ukraine drone attack' hits ANOTHER Russian airbase

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 06/12/2022 Will Stewart and Chris Pleasance for MailOnline

Flames are today engulfing a Russian airbase near the border with Ukraine after a third suspected drone strike in just two days. 

Oil tankers at a base near the city of Kursk, around 60 miles from the border, were on fire and streaming smoke into the sky early Tuesday morning. 

The cause of the blaze is currently unknown but it comes just a day after two similar blasts damaged airbases in Saratov and Ryazan, which the Russian ministry of defence blamed on Ukrainian drones. 

Those strikes, on Engels-2 airfield and Dyagilevo airbase, damaged two nuclear-capable bombers that were thought to be preparing for an attack on Ukraine, killed three ground crew and injured two more.

Oil tankers at an airbase near the Russian city of Kursk were on fire Tuesday morning after another suspected Ukrainian drone strike

Oil tankers at an airbase near the Russian city of Kursk were on fire Tuesday morning after another suspected Ukrainian drone strike
© Provided by Daily Mail

Russian military bloggers have suggested the attacks were carried out using a repurposed Tupolev Tu-141 Strizh - a Cold War-era Soviet reconnaissance drone - but these have not been confirmed.

Ukraine rarely confirms strikes on Russian territory, but is thought to be behind dozens of explosions on fuel depots and ammo dumps supplying Russian forces fighting in the country's east.

Bryansk, Kursk and Belgorod - three regions that immediately border Ukraine and have been used as a staging point for assaults - have all been hit multiple times.

It has never been confirmed how those attacks were carried out, but drones have been credited for some of them. 

However, the tactic of using drones to directly strike Russian airbases - as opposed to the facilities that supply them - does appear to be new, and Ukraine appears to be able to strike much further into Russia than previously known.

Images have emerged of the Engels and Dyagilevo bases they were hit, with pictures from the latter showing a nuclear-capable Tu-22M3 bomber with a damaged tail.

Under its wing a Kh-22 missile is suspended — evidently ready for a strike on Ukraine.

This suggests the suspected drone mission stopped at least one of the barrage of missiles Russia has targeted at Ukraine in recent days in a bid to disable electricity and other vital supplies in an onslaught seen as targeting civilians.

Satellite images released last week had shown bombers at Engels airbase being equipped with similar missiles, as analysts warned a 'large scale attack' on Ukraine's power grid was 'imminent'. 

Images from a strike on an airbase in the city of Ryazan yesterday showed damage to the tail of a nuclear-capable bomber with a cruise missile under the wing - due to be used to attack Ukraine power network (circled) © Provided by Daily Mail Images from a strike on an airbase in the city of Ryazan yesterday showed damage to the tail of a nuclear-capable bomber with a cruise missile under the wing - due to be used to attack Ukraine power network (circled)

Three were killed and more wounded in this attack.

Satellite images also confirmed traces of burning next to a Tu-22M bomber.

The other attack was at Engels airbase in Saratov region where two strategic Tu-95 bombers were reportedly damaged.

The evident reach of Ukrainian drones inside Russia has angered pro-war commentators in Moscow who have questioned the capability of air defences.

Sergei Mardan, military columnist for major newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, demanded revenge strikes.

“How can we help Kursk? Only with a strike against Kyiv,” he said.

Kursk regional governor Roman Starovoyt, a Vladimir Putin henchman, stated: "An oil tank is on fire as a result of a drone attack near the Kursk airfield. There are no casualties. The fire is currently being localised.”

All emergency services are working at the scene at Kursk-Vostochny airport which is normally used both for civilian and military planes.

There have been no civilian flights from this airport since the start of the war.

Russia claims that Ukraine has used Soviet reconnaissance drones Tu-141 called Strizh to mount the attacks.

The Russian defence ministry claimed the drones were hit by air defences but debris fell causing damage to aircraft on the ground.

Tu-95 bombers (left) and Tu-160 aircraft (right) were pictured at Engels airbase last week alongside long crates (centre) thought to contain cruise missiles © Provided by Daily Mail Tu-95 bombers (left) and Tu-160 aircraft (right) were pictured at Engels airbase last week alongside long crates (centre) thought to contain cruise missiles Read more
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