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Russia says it shot down Ukrainian drone near bomber air base

Russia claimed on Monday (26 December) that it had shot down a Ukrainian drone near one of its long-range bomber bases deep within its territory. Three Russian personnel were also killed in the incident.

According to Russian news agencies, the drone flew near Russia’s Engels Air Base. This base is home to long-range strategic bombers which could have been used for targeting infrastructure and cities in Ukraine. According to Russian news agencies, no planes were damaged during the incident.

However, unverified accounts on social media in Ukraine and Russia claimed that several planes were destroyed.

This air base is one of two strategic bomber bases that house Russia’s air-delivered nukes. It is located close to Saratov, approximately 730 km (450 miles) southeast of Moscow, and hundreds of kilometres from the frontlines of Ukraine.

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Ukraine did not immediately comment, although it has never publicly claimed responsibility for the attacks on Russia, but called them “karma”, for Russia’s 24 February invasion.

Russia stated that the same base was attacked by Ukrainian drones earlier in the month.

According to a defence ministry statement published on Monday: “A Ukrainian unmanned aircraft vehicle (drone), was shot down while approaching the Engels military base in the Saratov area.”

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Falling drone wreckage caused the deaths of three Russian servicemen from the technical staff.

Russia currently has 60-70 strategic bomber aircraft of two types, the Tu-95MS Bear or the Tu-160 Blackjack. Both can carry conventional munitions and nuclear bombs.

Moscow used its air force for cruise missile firing in its “special military operations” to weaken Ukraine’s military capabilities. These attacks are war crimes, Kyiv said and compared Russia to a terrorist country.

A strike on the same base on 5 December and another on the same day raised doubts about the effectiveness of Russian air defenses. This shocked Russian commentators.

They stated on social media that if Ukraine can strike so far within Russia, it might also be able to hit Moscow.

Roman Busargin (the governor of Saratov) said that the civil infrastructure facilities were not damaged by the latest incident at the base. He said that authorities were looking into it.

Busargin stated that there is no danger to residents.

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