What could the Ukrainian drone attack on Russian airbases mean for Putin’s war?

A blast hit an airbase in Kursk on Tuesday, the latest in a series of apparent Ukrainian drone attacks inside Russia. What does this mean for Putin's war?

On Tuesday, an explosion occurred at an airbase in Russia. This is the latest in a string of apparent Ukrainian drone strikes that have demonstrated an ability to strike at Russia’s heartland and indicate a new boldness in Kyiv’s fight against Moscow’s war.

On Tuesday morning, Kursk, in southwest Russia, was set ablaze by a drone attack.

Photos and video taken by NBC News show a large fire at the airport, possibly caused by a damaged oil tanker. Smoke trails miles across the sky.

Similar explosions were also seen Monday at the Engels Air Base outside Saratov, and at Ryazan. Both are located just 125 miles southwest from Moscow and hundreds of kilometers away from the Ukrainian border.

The Engels base is home to Russia’s strategic bombing fleet, tu160 and tu95 planes. These aircraft have been used in long-range bombing missions against Ukraine and can be modified to carry nuclear weapons.

Officials have joked that the Ukrainian military might be responsible for the events, though Ukraine has not claimed direct responsibility. The Russian defense ministry claimed that Kyiv’s forces were responsible for Monday’s blasts. It said three maintenance personnel died and two planes were destroyed.

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Analysts were cautious about how the attacks on strategic sites near the front lines would affect the military, but they said that they had undermined Russia’s confidence in its air defenses and provided a timely morale booster for the Ukrainian civilians who are preparing for long winters under bombardment.

Matthew Ford, an associate professor at Stockholm’s Swedish Defense University, stated that the Ukrainians need to be able to signal that they are responding.

“It is important that some Russian strategic resources be targeted from a morale standpoint.”

He said that Russia has the firepower and capability to continue bombing Ukraine. It might be difficult, but Russia can move aircraft and infrastructure. They can also provide more security around their air bases.

According to the Kremlin, the attacks were caused by a “Soviet made UAV,” which is an unmanned aerial vehicle. This indicates that Ukraine isn’t using the lethal aid worth billions of dollars it received from the United States and its Western allies for attacks on Russian soil. Washington fears this could lead to an escalation.

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