Moscow/Lviv, Dec 5 (EFE).- Russia accused Ukraine on Monday of carrying out its deepest attack so far into Russian territory, hitting two military airbases several hundred kilometers from the front lines in drone strikes that coincided with the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the bridge connecting Crimea with Russia proper that was damaged two months ago by Ukrainian forces.
In reprisal, the Russian army on Monday launched a new massive bombardment against about 20 civilian and military infrastructure targets in several Ukrainian regions.
The alleged Ukrainian targets were two military airbases: Dyagilevo Airbase in the Ryazan region, at least 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Moscow, and Engels Airbase in the Saratov region, some 700 km from the front lines.
Strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons reportedly are stationed at both bases.
As Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Igor Konashenkov said on Sunday evening, the attacks were made by Soviet-made Ukrainian drones.
“The Kyiv regime attempted to attack by Soviet-made UAVs the military airfields at Dyagilevo in the Ryazan region and Engels in the Saratov region in an effort to disable Russian long-range aircraft,” Konashenkov said.
Russian anti-air defenses downed the Ukrainian drones “that were flying at low altitude,” Konashenkov said.
“As a result of the downing and explosion of the fragments of the drones on the airbases, two aircraft suffered minor damage. Three Russian soldiers in the technical service who were at the airbase were killed,” he added.
The defense spokesman added that four other soldiers were wounded and had to be hospitalized.
Although Ukraine did not officially claim responsibility for the attack on the airbases, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, suggested on Twitter that the explosions could be a response by Kyiv to prior Russian attacks.
“The Earth is round – discovery made by Galileo. Astronomy was not studied in Kremlin, giving preference to court astrologers. If it was, they would know: if something is launched into other countries’ airspace, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to departure point,” he tweeted.
If the attacks are confirmed to be the work of the Ukrainians, it would be the first attack launched by Kyiv against an enemy target hundreds of kilometers outside its own territory.
The attack on Monday is reminiscent of the explosions that took place in August at an airbase and ammunition depot on the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and was the work of Ukrainian saboteurs.
Two months ago, on Oct. 8, the Ukrainians went even further by detonating a huge truck bomb on the jewel in Putin’s crown, the Crimea bridge, a strike to which the Kremlin responded with a series of massive bombardments of Ukrainian civilian and military infrastructure that is still ongoing.
Specifically, on Monday Putin personally inspected the bridge at the wheel of an automobile.
The Russian leader, who has not visited the Crimean Peninsula since the start of Moscow’s military campaign against Ukraine in late February, drove a Mercedes Benz on the bridge.
The Crimea bridge, 19 km (12 mi.) long, is considered Russia’s most significant engineering project since Putin came to power in 2000.
Although shortly after his bridge inspection, Putin said he did not feel that more massive attacks on Ukraine were necessary, Russian aviation and artillery have not ceased bombarding civilian targets in Ukraine, especially the power grid.
Also on Monday, Russian forces staged the eighth massive attack on Ukraine’s energy grid since Oct. 10.
As a result of the bombardments, Ukrainian authorities have been forced to cease supplying water and electricity in the Black Sea port city of Odessa, as well as providing electricity and heating in Krivoi Rog in central Ukraine, while in Mykolaiv in the south an emergency power cut was implemented as anti-aircraft alarms sounded.