These drone attacks deep inside Russia are not going to convince the Russians that they don’t need significant buffer space between NATO and the Russian border.
A Ukrainian drone strike on two Russian airbases in the Ryazan and Saratov regions has resulted in the deaths of three service members and minor damage to two airplanes, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday.
A number of “Soviet-made” jet drones, flying at low altitude, targeted the long-range strategic aviation assets at the Dyagilevo airfield in Ryazan Region and Engels airfield in Saratov Region, according to the ministry. While they were detected and shot down by air defenses, the debris impacted the airfields, “slightly” damaging two aircraft.
Three service members were “fatally injured” while four more were taken to military hospitals for treatment.
Ukrainian drones have previously attacked the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol and targeted the Russian navy in Crimea, but Monday’s attack reached deep inside Russia. The Dyagilevo airfield is more than 500 km from Ukrainian-controlled territory, while Engels is about 700 km away.
Nor were these two attacks the only ones. A third attack was made on an airbase in Kursk.
An airfield in the city of Kursk has been targeted in a drone attack, according to the governor of the southwestern Russian region. The strike comes the day after two bases, in Ryazan and Saratov Regions, were targeted with similar weapons. “As a result of a drone attack, an oil storage tank caught fire in the area of the Kursk airfield. The fire is being localized. All emergency agencies are on site,” Kursk Region Governor Roman Starovoyt said in a Telegram post on Tuesday morning around 7:20am local time.
However, the drone attacks are not significant, are reported to have done very little damage, and do not appear to be much more than desperate attempts to forestall a coming Russian air campaign, presumably in support of a large-scale offensive, given the fact that they targeted air bases known to be host to heavy bombers.