Ukraine launched a wave of drone attacks on Russia early Wednesday, likely Kyiv’s most extensive assault on Russian soil since the 18-month conflict between the two countries began.
The Ukrainian drones were aimed at six Russian regions, with one of them hitting an airport near Russia’s border with Estonia and Latvia. That drone ignited a huge blaze and damaged four Il-76 military transport planes, which can carry heavy machinery and troops, the Russian news agency Tass reported, quoting emergency officials.
The nighttime drone attacks lasted more than four hours, officials said, although no injuries were reported. There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials, but Kyiv rarely takes responsibility for attacks inside Russia.
Meanwhile, Moscow’s forces hit Kyiv with drones and missiles during the night with what Ukrainian officials described as a “massive, combined attack” that killed two people with falling debris.
Sergei Popko, the head of Kyiv’s military administration, described Russia’s attack on the Ukrainian capital as the biggest since the spring, even as Ukraine’s air defenses shot down more than 20 drones and missiles.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram that the falling debris caused fires and damage in several districts.
Ukraine has recently stepped up its attacks inside Russia, even as it has pursued a counteroffensive against Russian strongholds in eastern and southern Ukraine.
The airport in the Pskov region of Russia, about 700 kilometers north of the Ukrainian border, was the hardest hit in the overnight drone attacks Wednesday. All flights to and from the airport were canceled for the day so damage could be assessed.
The Ukrainian drones also targeted the Oryol region, about 400 kilometers south of Moscow, as well as Ryazan and Kaluga, which are both 200 kilometers south of the Russian capital, and Bryansk, which borders Ukraine. Russia said it shot down some of the drones.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian military would undoubtedly analyze "how this was done in order to take appropriate measures to prevent these situations in the future."
Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Ukraine was relying on foreign help because the drones "simply would not be able to fly such a distance without carefully researched information from Western satellites."
The Russian military said its forces repelled an attack by a sea drone near Sevastopol, the port city in the annexed Crimean Peninsula that is the base of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
In an unspecified part of the Black Sea, Russia also said Wednesday it destroyed four Ukrainian military boats that were carrying Ukrainian troops.