Russia says it shot down Ukrainian drone near airbase

KIEV, UKRAINE—Russian forces reported Monday that they shot down a Ukrainian drone that was approaching an air base deep in Russia.

Russia’s defense ministry said three military personnel were killed by debris at Engels Air Force Base, which houses the Tu-95 and Tu-160 nuclear-capable strategic bombers that struck Ukraine with missiles 10 months ago. .

Russia’s Baza news outlet reported four people were injured and said in a video posted to its Telegram channel that the fire broke out with explosions, sirens and flashes. The Ministry of Defense claimed that the Russian aircraft was not damaged. It was not clear whether the drone was launched from Ukrainian or Russian territory.

If the drone was launched from Ukraine, it would have traveled more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) before reaching Engels in Russia’s Saratov region on the Volga River.

In line with the Kyiv government’s long-standing practice of not confirming cross-border attacks and welcoming the consequences, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yury Inat said in an interview with Ukrainian television that he had no interest in Monday’s incident. He did not directly acknowledge his country’s involvement, but said: These are the results of Russian aggression. ”

He added: “If the Russians thought the war would not affect them deep on their front lines, they were very wrong.”

In another cross-border incident that could not be independently confirmed, Russia’s TASS news agency on Monday killed four Ukrainian saboteurs who tried to invade the Bryansk region from Ukraine by state security forces. reported. Reports say the intruder was carrying explosives when he was arrested on Sunday.

Cross-border attacks on Russian military installations and other strategic locations have led Russian President Vladimir Putin to order nearly weekly missile- and weapon-launched drone strikes against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. , causing widespread blackouts that also shut down heating and water supplies in increasingly frigid weather. His October offensive across much of Ukraine is occurring as a ground war focused on Ukraine’s southern and eastern regions.

In eastern Ukraine on Monday, Ukrainian governor-general of Luhansk Serhiy Hayday said Russian troops had withdrawn from the military command post in the town of Kreminna as Ukrainian forces were closing in after months of heavy fighting. The Russian Defense Ministry did not comment on the withdrawal claims.

After withdrawing from the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine, Russian troops moved to Kreminna and several other areas in September. Located in the eastern Luhansk region, almost entirely under Moscow control, Kreminna is on an important supply route for Russian forces and serves as a gateway for movement to other strategic positions. Haidai previously reported that Russia had withdrawn the administration of the occupying government from Svatove, 51 kilometers (31 miles) north of Kreminna. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on Monday, “The situation on the ground is difficult and painful. The occupiers have expended all available resources, and they are considerable resources, and it is hoped that at least some progress will be made.” I am squeezing out.”

In the neighboring Donetsk region, which is partially occupied by Russia, heavy fighting continues around the city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces have been trying to seize for weeks to strengthen their hold in eastern Ukraine. Zelensky said last week that Bakhmut was the hottest spot on his 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) front line of the war.

Ukrainian officials have maintained ambiguity about previous high-profile attacks, including a drone attack on a Russian military base earlier this month.

A total of three servicemen were killed and four wounded in an unprecedented drone attack on the Engels and Diaghirevo bases in the Ryazan region of western Russia on December 5. In retaliation, Russia launched a massive missile barrage in Ukraine, attacking homes and buildings and killing civilians.

Elsewhere on the battlefield, Russia has shelled five regions in southeastern Ukraine in the past 24 hours, wounding at least four civilians, said Kyril Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office. Overall, the intensity of the artillery fire from Sunday night through Monday decreased significantly.

For the first time in recent weeks, Russian troops did not shell the Dnipropetrovsk region, which borders the partially occupied southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia, its governor, Valentin Reznichenko, told Telegram.

“It’s the third quiet night in 5.5 months since the Russians started shelling,” Leznichenko wrote. Nikopol is located across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which is under Russian military control and has six shutdown reactors.

According to Kherson’s Ukrainian governor Yaroslav Yanushevich, the neighboring Ukrainian-controlled area of ​​Kherson region has been shelled 33 times in the last 24 hours. No casualties were reported.

On Sunday, Russian forces attacked the city of Kramatorsk, the headquarters of the Ukrainian army. Local authorities said three missiles hit an industrial facility and damaged homes, but no casualties were reported.

A deadly attack on the city of Kherson, which Kyiv forces recaptured last month, killed and wounded dozens on Saturday. rice field.

Associated Press