© Reuters. Firefighters work outside an office that was destroyed by shelling during Russia’s war with Ukraine in Donetsk, the Russian-controlled Ukraine, December 5, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
By Pavel Polityuk and Oleksandr Kozhukhar
KYIV (Reuters) – An airstrike on an airfield in the Kursk region of Russia set a fuel tank on fire, the governor said on Tuesday, a day after Russia blamed Ukraine for a deadly attack by two warplanes inside Russian territory.
Roman Starovoyt, the governor of the Kursk region on the border with Ukraine, said on the Telegram news program that there were no casualties from the attack and that the fire was “found”. Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports.
The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier that Ukrainian drones attacked two airfields in Ryazan and Saratov in south-central Russia on Monday, killing three soldiers and wounding four, and destroying two planes.
Ukraine has not directly claimed responsibility for the attacks. Had it been behind them, Monday’s strike would have been the deepest in Russia since Moscow annexed Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The New York Times newspaper, citing a Ukrainian official, said that the drones that happened on Monday were launched from the territory of Ukraine, and one of the demonstrations was made with the help of special forces near the base.
Israeli satellite imaging company ImageSat International shared images it said showed signs and objects near the Tu-22M aircraft at the Diagilevo airport.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Monday’s attack was a terrorist act aimed at intercepting long-range aircraft, and low-flying drones were shot down. The death was reported in Ryazan, 185 km (115 miles) southeast of Moscow.
Saratov is about 600 kilometers (370 miles) from the nearest part of Ukraine. Russian commentators have said on social media that if Ukraine can strike hard inside Russia, it can also strike Moscow.
Ukrainian military expert Serhiy Zgurets said the airfields hit on Monday were the only places in Russia that could use the explosive devices used to launch attacks in Ukraine.
“It is still too early to say what it is, but the ability of the Ukrainian military to achieve military objectives in the territory of the Russian Federation has a symbolic and important meaning,” he wrote on Espreso TV. website.
There was no immediate comment from Kyiv or Moscow on the latest report of the drone attack in Kursk.
Russia responded to Monday’s attack with “massive strikes on military targets” and other targets using advanced air and sea weapons in which all 17 targets were hit, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Ukraine has warned of emergency power outages in several regions as it repairs damage caused by missiles that it said destroyed buildings and knocked out electricity.
The attack, which plunged parts of Ukraine into deep darkness with temperatures below zero (32 Fahrenheit), was the latest in weeks of attacks on infrastructure.
At least four people were killed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, adding that about 70 missiles were fired.
“In many areas, there should be an emergency shutdown,” he said in a video address on Monday. “We will do everything to restore order.”
Russia has been attacking Ukrainian forces regularly since early October in what it says is an attempt to humiliate its military. Ukraine says such attacks target civilians and are war crimes. Russia denies that.
The United States said it would convene a meeting Thursday with oil and gas officials to discuss how to support Ukraine’s energy sector, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Russia will fail “the current campaign to try, in particular, to get the Ukrainian people to raise their hands”.
“The point is this, unless and until Russia shows that it is interested in meaningful negotiations, it will not go anywhere. If and when it does, we will be the first to be ready to help,” he said to Wall. Street Journal CEO Council in Washington.
Russia is said to be conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine to remove nationalists and protect the Russian-speaking population. Ukraine and its allies are accusing Russia of an unexpected war of seizing territory.
STRUGGLING IN DONETSK
Ukraine’s military said on Tuesday that its forces had cleared Russian airstrikes in 7 areas of Donetsk region, including the town of Bakhmut, in the past 24 hours.
Russian troops are trying to cut the roads to Bakhmut from the west and northwest, the adviser to the President of Ukraine Oleksiy Arestovych said on YouTube.
Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told Ukrainian television late Monday that Bakhmut had about 12,000 residents, up from 80,000 before the war, and had no electricity or gas.
In the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, at least two people were killed and several buildings were damaged on Monday by Russian missiles, the head of the presidential office said.
Reuters video showed two bodies near a wrecked car in the village of Novosofiivka, about 25 km (16 miles) east of the city of Zaporizhzhia.
“All my neighbors were killed,” said Olha Troshyna, 62. “They were standing by the car… watching their son and daughter-in-law.”
Ukraine’s military said it shot down 60 of the more than 70 missiles fired by Russia on Monday.