Explosions at a pair of air bases deep inside Russia killed at least three people and wounded six others on Monday, Russian authorities said, while Ukrainian officials hinted at a capability to strike deeper within Russian territory.
A fuel tanker exploded at an airfield in Ryazan, southwest of Moscow, killing at least three people, according to RIA Novosti, a Russian state-run news agency. The report didn’t say what caused the explosion.
Separately, Russian authorities said they were investigating the cause of an explosion at a military base near the city of Engels in Russia’s Saratov region. The regional governor, Roman Busargin, said law-enforcement agencies are investigating the incident and that no civilians were hurt.
The Engels air base, a hub for Russia’s fleet of strategic bombers, has been used to launch air raids and missile strikes on Ukraine. Russia has used the long-range aircraft stationed at the base to fire cruise missiles at Ukraine, military analysts say. The bombers are also capable of carrying nuclear weapons, forming part of Russia’s triad of nuclear forces along with land-based and submarine-launched nuclear missiles.
Cruise-missile attacks have been a central part of a wave of attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in recent months, part of a strategy intended to deprive the civilian population of heating, electricity and water during winter, Ukrainian officials say.
Russian officials informed President Vladimir Putin about the “incidents at facilities” in the Saratov and Ryazan regions, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday, according to Russian state-run news agency TASS.
Ukrainian officials made only oblique references to the explosions, as they have with past strikes inside Russia.