Whenever there is a drone attack in the ongoing Ukraine-Russian war, one would quickly assume that the Russians have struck again. That has been the case for the past nine months, especially the past few weeks. The Russians had attacked electricity installations aggressively, and most parts of the country had been without electricity supply for weeks.
However, in a shocking turn of events, there were drone attacks in the heart of Russia, and no one at the moment could tell where the drones came from, but every finger is pointing at Ukraine, but most people are wondering how the Ukrainians managed to send their drone deep into Russian territory.
On Tuesday, explosions were reported in at least three locations inside Russia. An oil storage was set ablaze in the Kursk region after a drone hit the military base. The other explosions were at the Engels Airbase in the Saratov region and another at Dyagilyaevo airfield, not far from Ryazan in southeast Moscow.
A local leader in the Kursk region, Roman Starovoyt, said nobody died in the attack, and the fire was kept under control. However, Ukrainian drones were intercepted in the Dyagilevo and Engels airfield, but the debris fell and exploded, killing three Russian soldiers and injuring four others.
What Ukraine is saying
For now, there is no official statement from the Ukrainian government on the drone attacks inside Russia. They have neither claimed responsibility nor denied sending drones into Russian territories.
However, the attacks have generated celebrations in Ukraine, and military experts have hailed the Ukrainian military for the attacks.
“Video from Kursk, southwestern Russia, some 175 km from the border with Ukraine, where a UAV strike was reported on a military airfield,” Alex Kokcharov, a London-based risk analyst, wrote on Twitter while sharing a video of the burning oil storage.
“Three UAV strikes on Russian military airfields in just two days. Wow, [Ukraine’s defence], that’s impressive,” he added.
Serhiy Zgurets, a Ukrainian military analyst, said the airbases hit by the drone attacks were the facilities used by the Russians to service bombers targeted at 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,” Zgurets said.
The United States denies any involvement.
The United States has denied having anything to do with the recent attacks on Russian soil. The Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said his country neither encouraged nor made provisions for Ukraine to attack Russian territories.
“We have neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia, but the important thing is to understand what Ukrainians are living through every day with the ongoing Russian aggression against their country,” Blinken said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
Mr Blinken said the United States only provided “the equipment that they need to defend themselves, to defend their territory, to defend their freedom.”
He insisted that Moscow was trying to attack civilians by targeting infrastructures providing heat, water and electricity for the people of Ukraine, insisting that Russia was “weaponising winter.”
When asked if the US was involved in the attacks, Lloyd Austin, the US Defence Secretary, said: “The short answer is no. We are absolutely not doing that.”
Attacks show weakness in Russia’s defence
The attacks deep inside the Russian territory were unexpected by Russia or any individual. However, the incidents signified loopholes in Russia’s air defence and could further weaken the exhausted Russian army.
Serhiy Kuzan, head of the Ukrainian Security and Co-operation Centre think-tank in Kyiv, said: “These air bases handle strategic bombers which Russia has used to not only strike Ukrainian civilian targets but also to threaten the entire world. But Ukraine’s strikes have destroyed the image of the Russian Federation.”
“Even such sites are weakly protected,” he added.
Following the attacks, the UK military said: “The Russian chain of command will probably seek to identify and impose severe sanctions on Russian officers deemed responsible for allowing the incident.”
Since the attacks were targeted at military installations, it is safe to conclude that the Ukrainians were behind them. However, how the attacks were planned and carried out remains unknown, but however they happened, it shows that something could be wrong with Russia’s air-defence system and further attacks occur.
“The Russians will be doubting their ability to defend their strategic assets in [the country],” an anonymous official said.