Ukraine drones 'attack' main base of Putin's long-range strategic bomber fleet deep inside Russia

Ukraine drones 'attack' main base of Putin's long-range strategic bomber fleet deep inside Russia

Ukrainian drones attacked the main base of Putin’s long-range strategic bomber fleet deep inside Russia early on Wednesday, say intelligence sources.

The targeting of the Engels air base was reported to have been launched by Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence agency.

Kyiv was assessing the damage, according to a Ukrainian spy source, and the Ukrainian capital came under heavy missile attack early on Thursday.

The governor of the Saratov region, where the base is located, said Ukrainian drones had been downed near the city of Engels but did not report any damage.

“The results are being verified,” the Ukrainian source said of the attack.

The base is the main home of Russia’s long-range strategic bomber fleet and is located near the city of Saratov, about 730 km (450 miles) southeast of Moscow and hundreds of kilometres from the Ukrainian border.

Three Russian air force personnel died in December 2022 when a drone believed to be Ukrainian was shot down at the Saratov base.

Russia has regularly conducted missile and drone attacks on targets in Ukraine since launching its full-scale invasion of its neighbour in February 2022.

Ukraine defence chiefs say developing drone warfare is key to fighting Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

They have also targeted Russian aircraft based in annexed Crimea, as well as Putin’s Black Sea Fleet which has been forced to retreat towards Russia.

On the ground, Russian forces, being hit with heavy losses, have been gradually seizing territory, as Ukrainian soldiers are outgunned due to a shortage of ammunition.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday piled pressure on Republicans in Washington to stop blocking a huge new military aid package for Kyiv.

Meanwhile, British defence chiefs told how Putin’s military is seeking to hide its planes, ships and other assets to protect them from missile, drone and other strikes.

In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence in London said: “Russian military doctrine places high emphasis on the use of camouflage and deception techniques (often known as maskirovka) to enhance the survivability of Russian forces, as well as conceal their operational intent.

“The lack of effective employment of maskirovka was one of Russia’s key operational failures in the early phases of the invasion of Ukraine.”

The briefing continued: “Russian forces have highly likely been making efforts to increase and improve their employment of maskirovka techniques to mitigate the heavy losses sustained over the past two years in both the Black Sea Fleet and Aerospace Forces.

“At Russian air bases, maskirovka applications include decoy dummy models of aircraft and tyres on wings of planes. According to reports there are also painted silhouettes of airframes at nine Russian air bases.

“In the maritime domain, vessels of the Black Sea Fleet have black paint on the bow and stern, likely to make their warships appear smaller and a less appealing target.”