Unknown saboteurs blew up several Russian aircraft at a military base near Moscow, Ukraine reported.
Kyiv said the attack damaged two planes and a helicopter and caused 'hysteria' in the Russian military.
The reported incident this week marks the latest in a recent string of attacks on airfields in Russia.
Unknown saboteurs "blew up" several Russian military aircraft at a base near Moscow earlier this week, Ukraine's military intelligence agency said on Wednesday.
The reported attack marks the latest in a string of assaults specifically targeting airfields inside Russia's internationally recognized territory, which have taken place hundreds of miles away from active fighting along the Ukraine war's front lines and exposed major shortcomings in Moscow's domestic security apparatus.
An unidentified group of individuals managed to place and detonate explosives at the Chkalovsky airfield on Monday, the Ukrainian Main Directorate of Intelligence, an arm of the country's defense ministry that's also known as the HUR, said in a statement.
Kyiv said the sabotage damaged a Antonov An-148 passenger jet, a Ilyushin Il-20 ground attack aircraft, and a Mil Mi-28 attack helicopter that was previously used to shoot down drones around the Moscow region — systems used in attacks that have become an increasingly regular occurrence.
"The damage caused to the planes makes their rapid restoration improbable. A tail part of the helicopter was damaged by the explosion. Another AN-148 parked close to other ones was slightly damaged," the HUR said, according to a translation from Ukrainska Pravda.
It claimed the incident caused "major hysteria in the top military command," as high-profile reconnaissance aircraft and Russia's so-called "doomsday" planes — which can serve as an airborne command and control center in the event of a major disaster or conflict — are said to have been stationed at Chkalovsky at the time.
Although Ukraine revealed the attack and even published satellite imagery of the airbase, it did not specifically claim responsibility. Russia's defense ministry did not immediately publish a comment on the sabotage, but the HUR said Moscow has launched an investigation into the incident.
The reported sabotage at Chkalovsky follows other Ukraine-associated attacks on airbases within Russia's own borders and far from the ongoing fighting in Ukraine. These attacks, some of which were carried out by drones, have damaged and destroyed several Russian military aircraft and underscored serious gaps in Moscow's force protection capabilities and air-defense network.
Moscow has celebrated its sophisticated and layered defenses for being able to stop threats like missiles and aircraft, but small drones have managed to bypass and overcome these seemingly protective measures. Britain's defense ministry said in a late-August intelligence update that Russia saw over two dozen separate drone attacks during that month alone. This problem has prompted Moscow to urgently seek a variety of solutions.
In late August, several drones that Ukraine said were launched from within Russia's own territory attacked an airbase, destroying two Ilyushin Il-76s — Soviet-era airlift planes — and damaging two more. After the incident and in an attempt to better protect the airbase from future attacks, Moscow turned to a newly created civilian volunteer force to patrol the area.
Hundreds of civilian volunteers are not the only unusual measure Russia has taken to help secure its domestic security network. Other remedies to the problem include copying a World War II-era system by constructing towers with guns on top and placing car tires on vulnerable aircraft to project them form aerial threats. These makeshift efforts have even extended to the maritime theater in the occupied Crimean peninsula, where Moscow purposefully sank ships to protect a key bridge from potential Ukrainian sea drone attacks.
And the string of reported deep strikes is not just limited to Russia's internationally recognized territory. Ukrainian forces have carried out several high-profile attacks on strategic Russian targets on and around the occupied Crimean peninsula — which was illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014 — over the past few weeks.
Last week, for instance, Kyiv's forces launched a massive cruise missile strike on a Russian naval base in Sevastopol, which is home to Moscow's Black Sea Fleet, causing extensive damage to the facility and two vessels that were undergoing repairs. Western intelligence assessed in the aftermath of the attack that the damage will probably cause significant long-term challenges for Russia's naval operations around the Black Sea area.
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