Russia reports more drone attacks as satellite images show earlier destruction of 2 aircraft.
Russian authorities reported on Friday that their air defense systems successfully intercepted drones approaching three of the nation’s western regions. Concurrently, satellite imagery suggests that a significant drone onslaught earlier in the week resulted in the destruction of at least two Ilyushin Il-76 military transport planes at a Russian airbase.
According to regional governors, defense systems thwarted three drones in the Kursk, Belgorod, and Moscow regions.
Although Moscow temporarily suspended flights at its airports, Russian authorities confirmed that no major damage or injuries occurred.
These drones, directed at targets within Russia and attributed to Ukraine by Moscow, have become an almost daily occurrence as the war enters its 19th month and Kyiv’s forces pursue a counteroffensive. Notably, these drones have reached deeper into Russian territory.
Kyiv officials typically neither confirm nor deny responsibility for attacks on Russian soil. This apparent Ukrainian strategy appears to aim at unsettling Russia and exerting pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It remains uncertain whether these drones are launched from Ukraine or from within Russia itself.
Destruction of Il-76 Planes Examined
In parallel, satellite images scrutinized by AP indicate that suspected Ukrainian drone attacks late on Tuesday led to the destruction of at least two Ilyushin Il-76 military transport planes at a Russian airbase.
These images, captured on Thursday, depict Princess Olga Pskov International Airport, a dual military-civilian airport located approximately 700 kilometers (400 miles) north of the Ukrainian border, in proximity to Estonia and Latvia.
The four-engine Il-76 serves as a cornerstone of the Russian military’s airlift capabilities, capable of landing and taking off in challenging conditions. The Russian military is estimated to possess over 100 of these aircraft.
The AP analysis, conducted on Friday, revealed what appeared to be the charred remnants of two Il-76s on separate parking pads at the airbase’s apron. One included the plane’s tail, while the other showed signs of fire damage and fragments from another aircraft.
Furthermore, eleven other were moved from their parking spots to airport taxiways, possibly to enhance security against future attacks. One Il-76 was on the runway, while another remained parked on its original pad, with unclear reasons.
Local reports have indicated that Ukrainian drone attacks on the airbase resulted in damage to four Il-76s.
Uncertainty Surrounds Mysterious Drone Attacks on Russian Airbase
The satellite image was captured at 1303 GMT on Thursday. Videos circulated on social media on Thursday night depicted anti-aircraft fire near the airbase. However, it remains uncertain whether this signified another attack.
Cloud cover initially obstructed satellites from obtaining an unobstructed view of the Pskov airbase targeted on Tuesday night.
On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy revealed that his country had developed a weapon capable of striking a target 700 kilometers (400 miles) away, an apparent reference to the airbase attack. He described Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries as the producer of the weapon but did not provide further details.
Throughout the ongoing conflict, Kremlin forces have employed numerous salvos of Iranian-made exploding drones to target Ukraine.