KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian drones have struck two air bases deep inside Russian territory.
The unprecedented attack in Russia threatened a major escalation in the nine-month-old war as it hit an airfield housing bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. President Vladimir Putin has threatened to use all possible means to defend his territory, which many have interpreted as nuclear weapons.
Russia has launched an almost weekly bombardment of Ukraine in response to another audacious attack, the Oct. 8 truck bombing of a key bridge connecting its mainland to the Crimean peninsula.
On Monday, Putin drove his car over a partially repaired bridge in an attempt to show that his country can recover from this embarrassment.. Putin personally opened the 19-kilometer (12-mile) bridge in 2018 as part of an expensive effort to strengthen Russia’s claim to Crimea, which it illegally annexed in 2014.
In a retaliatory strike on Monday, missiles knocked out essential services in several regions of Ukraine in Moscow’s strategy to inflict more pain as winter approaches. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday that 4 people were killed in the attack.
Ukraine’s air force claimed to have shot down more than 60 of the 70 missiles, and Zelensky again showed defiance by praising workers who immediately tried to restore power.
“Each Russian missile shot down is a concrete proof that terrorism can be defeated,” Zelensky said in his speech at night.
Ukraine said initial indications were that Russia had fired 38 cruise missiles from carriers in the Caspian Sea and south of Rostov Oblast. In addition, 22 Kalibr cruise missiles were launched from the Russian Black Sea Fleet, as well as long-range bombers, fighter jets and guided missiles.
Electricity provider Ukrenergo said its facilities had been hit, causing some blackouts, although the prime minister later said electrical installations were not as widespread as previous attacks, with only three areas damaged.
After the air raid warning in the capital Kyiv, many people quickly filled the central “Zoloti Vorota” metro station. There are no signs that the city or the surrounding area was hit.
Ukrainian media reported explosions in Cherkassy, Krivyi Rokh and Odessa, south of Kyiv. Officials said that water, electricity and central heating system were cut off in many parts of Odessa.
“The enemy is launching rocket attacks on the territory of Ukraine again!” Kirill Tymoshenko, Deputy Chief of Staff of the President of Ukraine, wrote about this in Telegram.
In neighboring Moldova, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said on its Facebook page that border guards discovered a missile in an orchard near the city of Bricheni, near the border with Ukraine. Although the bomb squad went to the scene, it is not yet known when the rocket fell and who fired it.
The Russian Ministry of Defense disclosed the details of the attacks on the air bases and said that it shot down two Ukrainian drones. It was reported that three Russian servicemen died under the debris, four were injured, and two planes were slightly damaged.
The attacks on the Engels Air Base in Saratov Oblast on the Volga River and the Diaghilev Air Base in Russia’s western Ryazan Oblast are part of Ukraine’s efforts to reduce Russia’s long-range bomber force, the ministry said.
More than 600 kilometers (more than 370 miles) east of the border with Ukraine, Engels Air Force Base is home to Tu-95 and Tu-160 nuclear-armed strategic bombers that have been involved in strikes against Ukraine. Diaghilev Air Base, home to tanker planes used to refuel other aircraft in flight, is about 500 kilometers (more than 300 miles) northeast of the Ukrainian border.
The attacks exposed the vulnerability of Russia’s most strategic military facilities and raised questions about the effectiveness of its air defenses if drones could get so close to them.
The ministry did not say where the drones came from, but Russian military bloggers said they were launched by Ukrainian intelligence.
Russian news agencies had previously reported on the explosions in both locations, giving slightly different information on casualties than the Defense Ministry.
The armed forces of Ukraine published a photo claiming to see blood on the snow under a military vehicle at one of the air bases. The authenticity of the photo could not be verified.
Zelensky’s adviser Mykhailo Podoliak trolled the Russians about the drone attack on Enges and did not claim responsibility.
“If something is released into the airspace of other countries, sooner or later unidentified flying objects will return to the point of departure,” Podoliak wrote on his Twitter account.
In other developments, Zelensky’s office said three rockets had landed in his hometown of Krivyi Roh in south-central Ukraine, killing one factory worker and wounding three others. One person was killed as a result of S-300 missiles landing on civilian infrastructure in the city of Kupyansk in the northeastern region of Kharkiv.
The war, which began with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, has displaced millions of people, killed and wounded tens of thousands, and shaken the world economy. Main exports from Ukraine and Russia.
On Monday, Western countries imposed a price limit of 60 dollars per barrel of oil and a ban Part of new measures aimed at increasing pressure on Moscow over some types of Russian oil, related to the war.
The Kremlin rejected this step, and Zelensky called it insufficient.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Alexander Novak warned on Sunday that Russia will not sell its oil to countries trying to impose price caps.
“Even if we have to reduce production to a certain extent, we will sell oil and oil products only to countries that will work with us on the basis of market conditions,” said Novak.
In another move that took effect on Monday, the 27-nation European bloc imposed an embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea.
Russia, the world’s No. 2 oil producer, relies on oil and gas to prop up its economy, which is already under extensive international sanctions.
Eduardo Castillo took part in Kyiv, Tallinn, Yuras Karmanau, Estonia and Andrew Katell in New York.
Follow AP news on the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine