Drone attack on military base deep inside Russia

Three Russian army servicemen have died after an alleged Ukrainian attack on a crucial airbase deep inside Russian territory.

By Stefan J. Bos 

Blasts rocked the Russian city of Engels early on Monday, residents noted. Just over ten months after Russia's invasion of Ukraine began, the war rapidly escalated beyond Ukrainian territory.

Moscow blames Kyiv for a "drone attack" on a strategic Engels airbase some 300 miles (480 kilometers) from the Ukrainian border.

It is also just 450 miles (720 kilometers) southeast of Moscow, Russia's capital.

Russia's defense ministry claims the Ukrainian drone was shot down while approaching the Engels base but added that falling debris killed three service members.

Yet, Ukraine's ability to apparently reach military targets deep inside Russia added concerns over escalation in Europe's largest armed conflict since World War Two.

Monday's strike, which follows earlier attacks in Russia, was expected to raise questions among allies supplying Ukraine with weapons, including the United States.

Growing escalation concerns

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters this month that Washington is not seeking to enable Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.

"We have not provided Ukraine with weapons to use inside Russia; we have been very clear that it is our defensive supplies," he said. "The president said very clearly some time ago that we are not enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders. We are not encouraging Ukraine to strike beyond its borders," Price stressed.

The Ukrainian military did not officially admit to the latest attack. But an air force spokesman, Yuriy Ihnat, said the explosions resulted from what Russia was doing on Ukrainian soil.

Stall tactics?

Ahead of the latest standoff, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed he was ready to negotiate peace with all parties involved in the war in Ukraine.

Yet, critics did not see that as a hopeful message this Christmas season.

Kyiv and Western nations suggest that President Putin's claims are an attempt to buy time after a series of Russian defeats and retreats on the battlefield in a war that has killed at least tens of thousands of people.

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26 December 2022, 16:24