Mysterious explosions have occurred at two Russian airbases far from the frontlines, raising the possibility that Kyiv has found a way to target Russia’s long-range bombers used in attacks against Ukraine’s infrastructure.
Russian media reports and video posted to social media indicated an explosion occurred early on Monday morning at the Engels-2 airbase in Russia’s Saratov region that hosts Tu-95 bombers that have taken part in cruise missile strikes against Ukraine.
Another explosion took place at a military airbase near Ryazan, a city less than 150 miles from Moscow. Three people were killed and five wounded after a fuel truck exploded, Russian state media reported. That base also hosts Tu-95 and Tu-22M long-range bombers.
Video of the explosion showed a fiery blast illuminating the night sky. Locals reported that the sound of the explosion could be heard from miles away.
The cause of the two explosions has not been confirmed.
Baza, a Russian media outlet with sources in the security services, reported that the Russian airfield at Engels was attacked by a loitering munition, a type of aerial weapon system, which targeted the airbase’s runway. Astra, another independent Russian media outlet, claimed two nuclear-capable Tu-95 bombers were damaged in the explosion. Neither indicated a source for their information.
The Kremlin said Vladimir Putin had been informed of the incidents. Local authorities in the Saratov region said security services were investigating reports of the explosion at the Engels airbase.
Ukrainian monitoring reports in the last week suggested Russia was delivering cruise missiles to the airbase and transferring aircraft to the Ryazan facility in preparation for another attack against Ukraine.
Ukraine is not known to have any loitering munitions that would allow it to attack hundreds of miles beyond the frontlines of the conflict, although there have been reports of such unmanned aerial vehicles under development.