KYIV: Ukrainian drones struck targets in at least six regions deep within Russia on Wednesday, including an airfield where they destroyed military transport planes, in one of the broadest volleys yet of Kyiv’s campaign to turn the tables on Moscow.
Russian officials described attacks on targets in the Pskov, Bryansk, Kaluga, Orlov, Ryazan and Moscow regions. The Russian foreign ministry said the attacks would “not go unpunished” and the drones could not have reached so far into Russian territory without Western help.
The attacks coincided with Russia’s most severe air strikes on Ukraine’s capital for months. Authorities in Kyiv reported at least two people had been killed as debris from intercepted missiles fell in four locations. Reuters captured footage of a fireball falling out of the night sky close to a supermarket, detonating in a huge explosion that lit up nearby apartment blocks.
Moscow said it hit command and intelligence targets. However, Ukraine claimed to have downed more than two dozen cruise missiles and a swarm of attack drones across the country in the “most powerful” aerial attack on Kyiv since spring.
‘Four Russian planes destroyed’
In northern Russia, more than 600km from Ukraine, a huge fire erupted at a military airfield in the city of Pskov, where elite paratroopers are garrisoned. Tass news agency reported at least four giant Il-76 transport planes were damaged, two of which had “burst into flames”.
The governor of Pskov posted a video on Telegram showing a huge fire with the sounds of sirens and an explosion at the air base. Other video posted online showed anti-aircraft systems in action around the city, which is just 32km east of Russia’s border with Nato-member Estonia.
Moscow said it had thwarted all the attacks on Russia. Russia typically describes all Ukrainian drone strikes as ‘unsuccessful’, regardless of the damage on the ground. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was working out where the drones were launched from to prevent further strikes.
President Vladimir Putin had been informed immediately, as would be the case in any such “massive attacks”, Peskov said.
Kyiv confirmed the Russian planes had been destroyed in Pskov, without commenting on the nature of the incident.
“Yes, four IL-76 transport planes were destroyed in Pskov at an airfield, they are beyond repair. Also, several other of those (aircraft) are damaged, but the information is being checked,” Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s GUR military agency, told Reuters.
‘Four Ukrainian boats destroyed’
Moscow also said its aircraft had destroyed four Ukrainian fast-attack boats carrying up to 50 paratroopers on the Black Sea and its forces had repelled attacks by enemy drones. Reuters could not independently confirm this.
Ukraine said its air defences had shot down 28 Russian missiles and 15 out of 16 drones fired overnight. “Kyiv has not experienced such a powerful attack since spring. The enemy launched a massive, combined attack using drones and missiles,” Serhiy Popko, the head of the city’s military administration, said on Telegram.
Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2023