Moscow said on Monday that Ukraine was behind the explosions that shook two air bases inside Russia and killed three servicemen.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said the explosion at a site hundreds of miles from the border between the two countries was the result of a Ukrainian drone strike, which may indicate Kyiv has a new capability to strike far from the front lines of the conflict.
The ministry said in a statement that two planes suffered minor injuries and four others were injured.
“The Kyiv regime attempted to attack the military airfield at Dyagilevo in the Ryazan region and the Engels airfield in the Saratov region with Soviet-made drones in an attempt to disable Russian long-range aircraft,” it said, adding that the drones were intercepted by air Defense when flying at low altitudes.
NBC News has not verified the claims, and Ukraine has not accepted responsibility. Both air bases are located more than 300 miles from the border.
Mysterious explosions hit bases involved in attacks on Ukraine early Monday, hours before the latest wave of Russian airstrikes forced residents of the capital Kyiv and other cities across the country to take shelter when sirens sounded.
The deputy head of the presidential office, Kirillo Tymoshenko, said in a Telegram post that power and water outages were felt from Sumy in the northeast to Odessa in the southwest, while at least two in the southern city of Zaporozhye. People lost their lives.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said it launched the airstrike “despite the Kyiv regime’s attempts to disrupt the combat operations of Russia’s long-range aviation through acts of terror”.
Moscow has long denied targeting civilians, but while such attacks have become an increasingly common feature of Kremlin warfare, explosions deep into Russian territory are more unusual.
Ukraine has not yet taken responsibility, but officials have been vague in social media posts suggesting its forces may have been responsible for the incident.
“The Earth is round – Galileo’s discovery. The Kremlin does not study astronomy, giving priority to court astrologers. If so, they will know: if something is launched into the airspace of other countries, the UFO will return to the point of origin sooner or later ,” presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak said in a statement. tweet.
Russian authorities earlier said they were investigating media reports of multiple explosions at the Engels air base near the city of Saratov in southwestern Russia. It has nuclear-capable Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers that have been involved in strikes against Ukraine, according to the Associated Press.
“Words about the large explosion and lightning in Engels in the early morning spread on social networks and the media,” Saratov Governor Roman Busarkin said in a Telegram post. “There is no reason to worry. Not a single civilian infrastructure was damaged.” to destruction,” he said.
Separately, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted an emergency services spokesman as saying that a fuel truck exploded at an airport near the western Russian city of Ryazan. They said at least three service members were killed, three were injured and a plane was also damaged.
According to the Associated Press, the base has long-range refueling aircraft that can refuel aerial bombers.
Ryazan officials did not comment on the blast, and NBC News did not confirm the reports.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said only that President Vladimir Putin “regularly receives information” when asked about the bombings at his daily news briefing.
“Engels Airport is one of the most important bases of the Russian Air Force,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, said in an interview. tweet“Two strategic bomber regiments are stationed here as part of Russia’s aerial nuclear deterrence tactics,” he said.
The MoD told its conference on Monday that Moscow had lost more than 60 aircraft since the war began on February 24 intelligence updateadding that air missions have dropped from 300 a day in March to dozens a day.
in a separate tweetit also said Ukraine had regained control of more than half of the territory Russia had seized since February.
Analysts said it was unclear whether the new wave of Russian attacks was in any way retaliatory to the air base bombing.
“They’re going to attack the country as much as they can,” Rajan Menon, head of the Washington-based think tank Defense Priorities, told NBC News by phone from Kyiv. “If it wasn’t for the base strike, they’d find other reasons to do it,” he said. Say.
Artyom Grudinin contributed.