Drone attacks targeted multiple regions of Russia in a widespread retaliatory strike for the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, as the authorities in Kyiv battled the heaviest air assault the city has faced since the spring.
(Bloomberg) — Drone attacks targeted multiple regions of Russia in a widespread retaliatory strike for the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, as the authorities in Kyiv battled the heaviest air assault the city has faced since the spring.
Four Ilyushin Il-76 military transport planes were damaged at an airport in Russia’s northwestern Pskov region, state-run Tass news agency reported Wednesday, citing an unidentified emergency services official. Russian air defenses claimed they shot down drones in five other regions including near Moscow, as well as in Sevastopol in occupied Crimea.
At least two people were killed and three wounded amid housing damage and falling debris in Ukraine’s capital region following Russian missile and drone attacks, local authorities said. Air defense forces said they shot down 28 Russian cruise missiles and 15 drones overnight in Kyiv and four other regions including Odesa and Mykolaiv in Ukraine’s south.
The strikes came as the Ukrainian military cites progress in a grinding three-month counteroffensive to reclaim occupied territory and steps up attacks far behind the front lines, including widening use of strikes inside Russia and deploying sea drones against Russian ships in the Black Sea. Last week it also staged a special-forces raid in Crimea.
The attack on Pskov, which borders NATO member states Estonia and Latvia, was particularly noteworthy as it’s located some 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of Ukraine. It’s home to an elite Russian paratroop unit that was deployed to Ukraine’s Bucha, where atrocities were recorded during the occupation. Regional Governor Mikhail Vedernikov said on social media that all commercial flights from the airport were halted Wednesday.
Russia’s Defense Ministry made no reference to the strike in Pskov even as it listed the downing of drones in other parts of the country.
“The war is increasingly moving to Russia’s territory and it cannot be stopped,” Mykhailo Podalyak, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, wrote on social media. Russia lacks effective air defenses, while Ukraine acts from defensive principles and “strictly adheres” to an agreement not to use weapons provided by its international partners in strikes against Russian territory, he said.
While Ukraine mostly doesn’t comment on the strikes, the scale and range of air attacks against Russia has steadily intensified since two drones were destroyed over the Kremlin in May. Russia last week said it downed 42 drones and a missile fired by Ukraine, the largest single attack by unmanned vehicles since the war began.
That came at the end of a week of almost daily retaliatory strikes against Russia, including attacks aimed at Moscow that have damaged buildings despite President Vladimir Putin’s demand to strengthen air defenses following a large-scale assault involving eight drones in May.
Moscow shut four international airports briefly again overnight in the latest attacks as a combat drone was downed near the capital. In central Russia, drones also were shot down in the Ryazan, Kaluga, Oryol and Bryansk regions.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said it destroyed four Ukrainian special forces speedboats in the Black Sea. Ukraine’s special forces called the claim “fake” in a Telegram post.
The intensified fighting pushed wheat prices up from the lowest level since early June.
Attention shifted this week to the frontline in southern Ukraine, where authorities in Kyiv said troops had pierced the first line of Russian fortifications and are fighting to widen the breach. The counteroffensive has been bogged down by Russian forces dug in along a vast front line stretching from the Donbas region in Ukraine’s east through the south to the mouth of the Dnipro river.
The slow-moving push has worried Ukraine’s allies, who say a long fight risks giving Putin the upper hand in a war of attrition.
–With assistance from Paul Abelsky.
(Updates with detail throughout)
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