Russia claims Kyiv hit its air bases, fires more missiles

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The Kremlin said Monday that Ukrainian drones struck two air bases deep in Russian territory, shortly before Russian forces launched a massive missile attack in Ukraine that hit homes and buildings and killed civilians.

The unprecedented attack in Russia threatened a major escalation in the nine-month-old war because it hit an airstrip housing nuclear-capable bombers. President Vladimir Putin has threatened to use all available means to defend his land, a remark that many have interpreted as including nuclear weapons.

Russia is bombing Ukraine almost weekly in retaliation for another audacious attack — the Oct. 8 truck bomb bombing of a vital bridge connecting its mainland with Crimea.

On Monday, Putin tried to show his country could recover from the embarrassment by driving a car across the partially repaired bridge.. Putin personally opened the 19-kilometre (12-mile) bridge in 2018 as part of a costly effort to bolster his claim to Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.

In a retaliatory barrage on Monday, missiles disrupted essential services in several Ukrainian regions in Moscow’s strategy to inflict more pain as winter approaches. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said four people were killed in Monday’s attack.

The Ukrainian Air Force claimed to have shot down more than 60 of the 70 missiles, and Zelensky again showed defiance, praising the workers who immediately tried to restore power.

“Every downed Russian missile is tangible proof that terrorism can be defeated,” Zelensky said in his evening address.

Ukraine said initial indications showed that Russia had launched 38 cruise missiles from carriers in the Caspian Sea and from the southern Rostov region. In addition, 22 Kalibr cruise missiles were launched from the Russian fleet in the Black Sea, long-range bombers, combat aircraft and guided missiles also took part.

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Electricity company Okernergo said its facilities were bombed, which led to some blackouts, although the prime minister later said that electricity facilities were damaged in only three areas, and not on a large scale as in previous attacks.

In the capital Kyiv, dozens quickly filled the central Zoloty Vorota metro station after air raid warnings. There were no immediate signs that the city or the surrounding area had been hit.

Ukrainian media reported explosions south of Kiev, in Cherkassy, ​​Kryvyi Rih and Odessa. Officials said water, electricity and central heating were cut off in many parts of Odessa.

“The enemy is attacking the territory of Ukraine again with missiles!” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, wrote on Telegram.

And in neighboring Moldova, the Interior Ministry said on its Facebook page that border patrol officers found a missile in an orchard near the northern city of Prishinje, near the border with Ukraine. A bomb squad went to the scene, but it was not immediately clear when the rocket hit or who fired it.

In detailing the attacks on air bases, the Russian Defense Ministry said it had shot down two Ukrainian drones. It added that three Russian soldiers were killed and four others wounded by the debris, and that two planes sustained minor damage.

The ministry said the attacks on the Engels base in the Saratov region on the Volga River and the Diaghilev base in the western Russian region of Ryazan were part of Ukraine’s efforts to limit Russia’s long-range bomber force.

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Located more than 600 kilometers (over 370 miles) east of the border with Ukraine, Engels Air Base houses the Tu-95 and Tu-160 nuclear-capable strategic bombers that have been involved in strikes on Ukraine. Diaghilev Air Base, which houses tanker planes used to refuel other planes in mid-air, is located about 500 kilometers (more than 300 miles) northeast of the Ukrainian border.

The attacks showed the vulnerability of some of Russia’s strategic military sites, raising questions about the effectiveness of its air defenses if drones could get close to them.

The ministry did not say where the drones came from, but Russian military bloggers said they were likely launched by Ukrainian scouts.

Russian news agencies had earlier reported explosions at both locations, with the Defense Ministry giving slightly different details on casualties.

Ukraine’s armed forces have released a photo they claim shows blood on the snow under a military vehicle at an air base. The image cannot be validated.

Zelensky’s advisor, Mykhailo Podolyak, provoked the Russians over the drone attack on Engels, stopping short of claiming responsibility.

“If something is launched into the airspace of other countries, sooner or later UFOs will return to the launch point,” Podolak wrote on Twitter.

In other developments, Zelensky’s office said three missiles hit his town of Kryvyi Rih in south-central Ukraine, killing a factory worker and wounding three other people. It added that in the northeastern Kharkiv region, one person was killed in strikes by S-300 missiles on civilian infrastructure in the town of Kupyansk.

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The war that began with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has displaced millions from their homes, killed or injured tens of thousands, and rocked the global economy – driving up prices and reducing the availability of food, fertilizer and fuel. The main exports are from Ukraine and Russia.

On Monday, Western countries imposed an embargo on the price of a barrel of oil of $60 On some types of Russian oil, as part of new measures aimed at stepping up pressure on Moscow over the war.

The Kremlin rejected the move, and Zelensky criticized it as insufficient.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who is in charge of energy, warned Sunday that Russia will not sell its oil to countries that try to implement price caps.

“We will sell oil and oil products only to countries that will work with us on market terms, even if we have to cut production somewhat,” Novak said.

In another move that took effect on Monday, the 27-nation European bloc imposed an embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea.

Russia, the world’s second largest oil producer, relies on oil and gas to support its economy, which is already under sweeping international sanctions.


Eduardo Castillo in Kiev, Jurass Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia, and Andrew Cattell in New York contributed.


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