Three people have been killed in a Ukrainian drone attack on an air force base in southern Russia, according to Moscow. Air defense forces shot down a drone near Engels Air Base, causing falling debris and fatally wounding three technicians, the defense ministry said. Earlier this month, Russia accused Ukraine of similar attacks on the airfield, the base of the bombers carrying out missile attacks against Ukraine. The base is located approximately 650 km (400 miles) northeast of the Ukrainian border. The Ukrainian military has not officially acknowledged the latest attack, but Air Force spokesman Yuri Inat said the explosion was the result of what Russia did on Ukrainian soil.
Hours later, the Russian security service, armed with improvised explosive devices and German submachine guns, killed four “sabotage groups” who tried to enter the Russian border region of Bryansk from Ukraine. The latest drone strikes inside Russia, shortly after the two December 5 attacks hundreds of kilometers from the front lines, both in the Engels base and in the Ryazan region, will embarrass Russian officials. It also blamed falling debris for the deaths of three soldiers and minor damage to two aircraft. Saratov Governor Roman Busargin offered his condolences to the man’s family and friends, and said the town of Engels itself poses “absolutely no threat to its residents.”
A spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force said satellite imagery of the airfield would soon show full damage from Monday’s attack, adding that previous explosions had damaged planes at the base. Engels Air Base has been repeatedly used by Russia to carry out missile strikes against various targets in Ukraine since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion on February 24. The Kremlin had previously accused Ukraine of encroaching on its territory, but the latest incident took place deep within Russian territory. Despite widespread calls for increased security around Russian military installations after the Dec. 5 attacks, the latest attacks suggest that has not happened. Separately, Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Monday called for Russia’s dismissal as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and its expulsion “as a whole” from the UN. There is currently no clear mechanism for replacing permanent members of the Security Council.