Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Another Drone Hits Russia; Comes After Deadly Attack On Russia’s Engels-2 Airbase Home To Long-Range Strategic Bombers

On November 6, the governor of the Russian region of Kursk reported that an oil storage tank at an airfield had been set on fire due to a drone attack. This comes a day after Ukraine allegedly launched two drone attacks on two military airfields deep inside Russian territory.

There were no casualties from the strike, according to Roman Starovoyt, the governor of the Kursk region bordering Ukraine, who posted on the Telegram messaging app.

A massive explosion was captured on camera and shared on social media, followed by a sizable fire at the airstrip 280 kilometers (180 miles) from the Ukrainian border.

A large column of black smoke emanated from the scene.

Moscow and Kyiv have not yet made any comments.

Russia’s military ministry said on Monday that Ukraine was to blame for two drone attacks that occurred hundreds of kilometers inside Russia and resulted in the deaths of three service members.

Russian officials attributed the strikes to customized Strizh drones, designed to be used as target practice when they were first built in the 1970s during the Soviet era.

On December 5, two military airbases in central Russia, hundreds of kilometers from the Ukrainian border, were reportedly shaken by unexplained blasts.

Multiple media outlets reported that one of the explosions is said to have occurred at the Engels-2 air base, which hosts nuclear-capable strategic bombers in operations against Ukraine. 

Russian news outlet Telegram channel Baza reports that an unidentified unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) crashed onto the airfield runway at the Russian Engels airbase in Saratov Oblast. 

Due to this, two Tu-95 strategic bombers were allegedly damaged. It was also reported that two soldiers were hospitalized with various injuries. The strategic bombers Tu-95 and Tu-160 are based at Engels, 500 kilometers east of the Ukrainian border. 

Last week, satellite imagery showed approximately two dozen Tu-95s and Tu-160s positioned at the Engels airfield, which media reports speculated were part of Russia’s preparations for massive airstrikes on Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, residents of Engels and Saratov shared multiple videos that purported to show a large explosion at the Engels air base on December 5 at around 6 a.m.

Kyiv has not taken any responsibility for the explosions. However, it is widely assumed that Ukraine was behind this and scores of other attacks of a similar nature on outposts and supply depots along Russia’s western border. 

Ukraine’s advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Anton Gerashchenko, tweeted, “Some sources report that this morning planes based on Engels and Ryazan airfields were scheduled to bomb Ukrainian energy infrastructure yet again.”

An independent Ukrainian media outlet speculated that the massive explosion at the Engels airfield in Russia and potential damage to the Russian strategic bomber fleet may have been caused by a covert Ukrainian project known as “The Black Box.” 

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry and Come Back Alive, the Army’s competent aid foundation, are in charge of the project. It is unclear what the Black Box project is, but it is known that it was created to boost AFU’s long-range striking capabilities specifically. 

Besides that, in October, Ukraine claimed that the project had caused Russia millions of dollars worth of damage. 

Another Incident In the Ryazan Region

The state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported on December 5 that a fuel tanker explosion at an airfield in the Ryazan region southeast of Moscow resulted in three deaths and six injuries. The cause of the blast is unknown.

Dyagilevo, the region’s sole air base, also houses Tu-95 nuclear-capable bombers. According to RIA Novosti, the fuel tanker explosion damaged an unidentified aircraft.

Since the beginning of Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor in February, regional governors in Russia have regularly accused Ukraine of carrying out attacks over the border on their territory. However, Kyiv has neither acknowledged nor denied this.

Experts pointed out that Engels-2 and Ryazan are between 300 and 450 miles from the Ukrainian border, outside the range of Kyiv’s missiles, implying that a drone most likely carried out the strike.

Meanwhile, Roman Busargin, governor of the Saratov region, stated that there was no damage to any civilian structures and added that the authorities are investigating possible incidents at military facilities. 

When asked if Russian President Vladimir Putin had been told about the Engels base explosion, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov responded only that the president was kept up to date on current events.

Tupolev Tu-95 - Wikipedia
Tupolev Tu-95 – Wikipedia

In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration reported on Monday that three rocket strikes struck his hometown of Kryvyi Rih in south-central Ukraine, killing one factory worker and wounding three others. 

Furthermore, an S-300 missile strike on civilian facilities in the town of Kupyansk in Kharkiv’s northeastern district killed one person.

Additionally, on Monday, as part of additional sanctions meant to increase pressure on Moscow over the war, Western nations started enforcing a $60 per barrel price cap and a ban on some types of Russian oil.

The Kremlin rejected the move, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized it since his government wanted the cap to be half as high.

In television remarks on Sunday, Russia’s deputy prime minister for energy issues, Alexander Novak, issued a warning saying Russia won’t sell its oil to nations who attempt to impose the price cap. 

Russian oil transported by sea is also subject to the 27-member European Union embargo. Russia, the No. 2 oil producer in the world, depends on the sale of oil and gas to support its struggling economy, which was hit by severe international sanctions.

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