- by theguardian
- 06 Feb 2023
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, claiming two of its warplanes had been damaged when it intercepted two Ukrainian drones. 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.
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 airbases, Russia launched a long anticipated mass strike against Ukraine, involving air-and sea-launched missiles from the Black and Caspian Seas.
Ukraine claimed to have shot down 60 of a total of 70 incoming missiles, a new record in the effectiveness of its air defence systems. The Russian defence ministry claimed to have hit 17 targets.
In Kyiv, air raid sirens sounded, and people took shelter in underground metro stations, but no missiles hit the capital, and after three hours the all clear was sounded. The strikes plunged some parts of the country into blackout at a time when temperatures are well below zero, but they appeared to have been significantly less successful in disrupting the Ukrainian power grid than the previous Russian mass missile attack on 23 November.
Video of the explosions at the Russian airbases showed a fiery blast illuminating the night sky. Locals reported that the sound of the explosion could be heard from miles away. In one video from Saratov, the sound of an aircraft or missile can be heard screaming overhead shortly before the explosion is heard. Local authorities in the Saratov region said security services were investigating.
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