A day after Ukraine launched two long-range attack drones at military air bases deep inside Russian territory on Monday, according to Russia's Defense Ministry and an undentified Ukrainian official, another drone struck an oil facility near the airport in Russia's Kursk region, which borders Ukraine, Kursk's governor said Tuesday morning. The airport, in the city of Kursk, is used for both civilian aviation and the Russian military, The New York Times reports.
The two air bases struck Monday — Engels, more than 370 miles from Ukraine, and Dyagilevo, about 300 miles from Ukraine's border and only 100 miles from Moscow — house aircraft used for Russia's recent flurry of missile attacks on Ukraine's civilian power and water infrastructure. Russia says two strategic bombers were damaged and three service members killed by drone wreckage. Ukraine has not officially claimed responsibility for the brazen attacks.
Because Russia has been using these air bases to attack Ukraine and its people, they are "a legitimate target of war for the Ukrainians" and a "logical next step" in Ukraine's attempts to "reduce and prevent Russian missile strikes," retired Australian Maj. Gen. Mick Ryan writes. But "this is a psychological strike against Russia," too, and it "will cause consternation among a public who thought they were safely insulated from the war" and among military officials in charge of what Ukraine has repeatedly shown to be Russia's "porous" air defenses.
"There are many airfields, command hubs, and logistics much closer to Ukraine which are now at risk," Ryan adds. Retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges made a similar point on CNN, suggesting the advent of long-range Ukrainian attack drones would make Russian positions in Crimea "untenable."
Russia attacked Ukraine with another barrage of missiles, but among Russia's influential pro-war military bloggers, "anger over the Russian military's inability to prevent the Ukrainian strikes on Russian strategic airbases over 280 miles from Ukrainian positions outweighed praise for the latest round of strikes against Ukraine," the Institute for the Study of War reports. "Russian milbloggers criticized Russian officials for failing to anticipate and prevent the drone strikes."
Russia's air command "is likely to respond by temporarily moving bombers to dispersal airfields" Britain's Ministry of Defense assessed, and "the Russian chain of command will probably seek to identify and impose severe sanctions on Russian officers deemed responsible for allowing the incident."