(Bloomberg) — Three servicemen were killed during a Ukrainian drone attack at a military air base in southern Russia that hosts strategic bombers, the Defense Ministry in Moscow said Monday.
The military personnel died from falling wreckage when Russian air defenses shot down the drone, the state-run Tass news service reported, citing the ministry. No aircraft were damaged, it said.
It’s the second time the Engels base in the Saratov region has been hit this month after an attack Dec. 5 that damaged two Tu-95 bombers, at the same time as a strike on an airfield in the Ryazan area. Ukraine hasn’t publicly confirmed responsibility for any of the incidents at least 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the border between the two countries.
“If Russians thought that war won’t touch them in their deep rear, they were deeply wrong,” Ukrainian air defense spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said on television in response to the latest attack, without commenting on whether Ukraine was involved.
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Russia in early December retaliated by firing a barrage of air- and sea-launched missiles against energy and communications infrastructure in Ukraine.
Russia has been waging a campaign of missile and drone attacks aimed at cutting off water, heating and power supplies in winter to try to force Ukraine into surrendering, after Moscow’s forces suffered a series of battlefield defeats in the invasion ordered by President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 24.
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Ukraine has turned to its US and European allies for help in strengthening its air defenses against the attacks. The US last week pledged to deliver a Patriot missile-defense system when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited Washington in his first trip outside the country since the war began.