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Blasts Hit Russian Air Bases, Moscow Launches Missile Barrage on Ukraine

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Ukrainian drones hit two Russian air bases on Monday, Russia’s defense ministry said, while Ukrainian officials hinted at a capability to strike deeper within Russian territory and Moscow launched a major barrage of missiles at Ukrainian cities.

The defense ministry said three Russian servicemen were killed and four were wounded in attacks by Soviet-era drones on the two bases, one in Ryazan, southeast of Moscow, and one in Russia’s Saratov region.

The Engels air base in Saratov, 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. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosions, and Ukrainian officials on Monday made only oblique references to the explosions at the Russian air bases, as they have with past strikes inside Russia. 

“If something is launched into other countries’ airspace, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to departure point,”

Mykhailo Podolyak,

an adviser to Ukrainian President

Volodymyr Zelensky,

said in a tweet. 

Ukraine hasn’t formally acknowledged past strikes inside Russia’s borders, choosing to maintain a cloud of ambiguity around such attacks.

There is no evidence that U.S.-provided weaponry was used in the strikes. The U.S. since June has supplied Ukrainian forces with 20 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers, or Himars, and a large inventory of satellite-guided rockets with a range of almost 50 miles. Those rockets, known as the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, have been used to strike Russian ammunition depots, logistics supplies and command centers on Ukrainian territory.

Damage after a shelling attack on the city of Alchevsk, in eastern Ukraine.



Photo:

Alexander Reka/Zuma Press

Eastern Ukraine has been a focal point of recent fighting in the country.



Photo:

Alexander Reka/Zuma Press

U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal that the Pentagon has modified the Himars launchers so they can’t fire long-range missiles, showing the lengths the Biden administration has gone to balance its support for Ukraine’s forces against the risk of escalation with Moscow.

Following the explosions at Russian air bases, Russia launched missiles at cities across Ukraine on Monday after air-raid sirens wailed throughout the country, sending people running for shelters, including the tunnels of the Kyiv metro system. Russian missiles killed two people and injured at least two others and destroyed several civilian homes in the Zaporizhzhia region in southeastern Ukraine, according to

Kyrylo Tymoshenko,

an aide to Mr. Zelensky.

Since October, Russia has repeatedly launched large-scale aerial attacks on Ukrainian cities using long-range missiles and drones, with many of the attacks targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Ukrainian officials describe the attacks as a deliberate effort to deprive the civilian population of heating, electricity and water during winter. 

Vitaliy Kim,

the governor of the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine, said Russian cruise missiles were spotted in the air. Explosions were also heard in the capital, Kyiv, as well as Vinnytsia in central Ukraine and several parts of the country’s east. Mr. Kim said Ukrainian air defenses were firing.

“Do not ignore the alarm, we will fight back,” said

Andriy Yermak,

Ukraine’s chief of presidential staff, in a post on Telegram.

John Kirby,

a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said the U.S. would continue to provide aid to help Ukraine defend itself.

“These strikes…are just another reminder of how [Russian President

Vladimir] Putin

continues to drive the Ukrainian people to their knees, and just the utter brutality of continuing to strike clearly civilian targets with that goal in mind,” Mr. Kirby told reporters.

He did not provide details about reports of the strikes at the Russian air bases.

Russia’s defense ministry accused Ukraine of attacking the bases with Soviet-designed jet drones that flew at a low altitude. The drones were intercepted by Russian air defense, it said, and the damage on the air bases was caused by drone debris. The claims couldn’t be independently verified.

A firefighter at a building in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk that was destroyed by shelling.



Photo:

ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/REUTERS

Mr. Kim, the Mykolaiv regional governor, referred to the Engels explosion in a social-media post on Monday, saying “they will have two fewer planes” for missile attacks on Ukraine.

Russian officials informed Mr. 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.

Russia has blamed Ukraine for a series of attacks inside Russian territory. If Ukraine was behind Monday’s explosions, it would suggest an expanded capability to hit military targets deep inside Russia. The two explosions occurred more than 300 miles from Russia’s border with Ukraine.

Since the first months of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine this year, explosions have hit Russian military bases close to Ukraine, including a series of apparent attacks in Russia’s Belgorod region.

The attacks serve Kyiv’s aims of disrupting Russia’s supply lines that bring military hardware and soldiers to the war in Ukraine. They also serve a psychological purpose, demonstrating Russia’s vulnerability to attack as the assault on Ukraine wears on.

Russia has also blamed Ukraine for a series of attacks on the Crimean Peninsula, a region of Ukraine that has been occupied by Russia since 2014. An explosion damaged the bridge linking Russia to Crimea in October, showing how Ukraine can strike targets with symbolic and strategic importance to the Kremlin.

TASS reported that part of the damaged bridge reopened to car traffic on Monday, and that Mr. Putin drove across the newly repaired section in a car with Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnillin, who reported to the president on the repair work. 

During Monday’s Russian missile barrage, a section of an unidentified rocket was found in a village in neighboring Moldova, the country’s Interior Ministry said in a post on Facebook. A border-police patrol found the remnant near the town of Briceni, near Moldova’s border with Ukraine, the ministry said. The post didn’t say whether anyone was injured in the incident. 

In November, two people in Poland were killed by a rocket during a Russia missile barrage against Ukraine. Western governments said the rocket was likely fired by Ukrainian antimissile defenses and landed in Poland accidentally. 

Ukrainians have suffered from outages of power and heating just as winter starts to set in.



Photo:

dimitar dilkoff/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Another salvo of Russian missiles in the small hours of Monday struck Ukraine’s industrial and energy infrastructure overnight, according to Ukrainian officials. Three Russian missiles hit an industrial estate near the city of Kryviy Rih in southern Ukraine, killing one person who worked at the facility and injuring three others who were hospitalized, according to the region’s governor.

Another nighttime attack hit industrial infrastructure in the Zaporizhzhia region, the area’s governor said in a post on Telegram. No one was hurt in the attack, the governor said.

Heavy fighting continued in eastern Ukraine, with Russia launching seven missile strikes and 32 airstrikes along the front lines over the last day, Ukraine’s military general staff said.

Russia has refocused its firepower on the eastern Ukrainian front after withdrawing from the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine in November in a major strategic defeat for the Kremlin. Russia has sent waves of soldiers to attack the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, where months of intense fighting has drawn comparisons to the trench warfare of World War I.

Russia has slowed the tempo of its strikes inside Ukraine in recent months, according to an assessment released on Monday by the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense. Russia now carries out “tens” of combat aircraft sorties each day, down from a peak of up to 300 a day in March, the ministry said.

Russia has lost more than 60 fixed-wing aircraft since it invaded Ukraine in February, the ministry said.

“The decrease in sorties is likely a result of continued high threat from Ukrainian air defences, limitations on the flying hours available to Russian aircraft, and worsening weather,” the ministry said.

—Yuliya Chernova contributed to this article.

Write to Jared Malsin at jared.malsin@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications
A fuel tanker exploded at an airfield in Ryazan, southeast of Moscow. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said Ryazan was southwest of Moscow. (Corrected on Dec. 5)

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Ukrainian drones hit two Russian air bases on Monday, Russia’s defense ministry said, while Ukrainian officials hinted at a capability to strike deeper within Russian territory and Moscow launched a major barrage of missiles at Ukrainian cities.

The defense ministry said three Russian servicemen were killed and four were wounded in attacks by Soviet-era drones on the two bases, one in Ryazan, southeast of Moscow, and one in Russia’s Saratov region.

The Engels air base in Saratov, 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. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosions, and Ukrainian officials on Monday made only oblique references to the explosions at the Russian air bases, as they have with past strikes inside Russia. 

“If something is launched into other countries’ airspace, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to departure point,”

Mykhailo Podolyak,

an adviser to Ukrainian President

Volodymyr Zelensky,

said in a tweet. 

Ukraine hasn’t formally acknowledged past strikes inside Russia’s borders, choosing to maintain a cloud of ambiguity around such attacks.

There is no evidence that U.S.-provided weaponry was used in the strikes. The U.S. since June has supplied Ukrainian forces with 20 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers, or Himars, and a large inventory of satellite-guided rockets with a range of almost 50 miles. Those rockets, known as the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, have been used to strike Russian ammunition depots, logistics supplies and command centers on Ukrainian territory.

Damage after a shelling attack on the city of Alchevsk, in eastern Ukraine.



Photo:

Alexander Reka/Zuma Press

Eastern Ukraine has been a focal point of recent fighting in the country.



Photo:

Alexander Reka/Zuma Press

U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal that the Pentagon has modified the Himars launchers so they can’t fire long-range missiles, showing the lengths the Biden administration has gone to balance its support for Ukraine’s forces against the risk of escalation with Moscow.

Following the explosions at Russian air bases, Russia launched missiles at cities across Ukraine on Monday after air-raid sirens wailed throughout the country, sending people running for shelters, including the tunnels of the Kyiv metro system. Russian missiles killed two people and injured at least two others and destroyed several civilian homes in the Zaporizhzhia region in southeastern Ukraine, according to

Kyrylo Tymoshenko,

an aide to Mr. Zelensky.

Since October, Russia has repeatedly launched large-scale aerial attacks on Ukrainian cities using long-range missiles and drones, with many of the attacks targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Ukrainian officials describe the attacks as a deliberate effort to deprive the civilian population of heating, electricity and water during winter. 

Vitaliy Kim,

the governor of the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine, said Russian cruise missiles were spotted in the air. Explosions were also heard in the capital, Kyiv, as well as Vinnytsia in central Ukraine and several parts of the country’s east. Mr. Kim said Ukrainian air defenses were firing.

“Do not ignore the alarm, we will fight back,” said

Andriy Yermak,

Ukraine’s chief of presidential staff, in a post on Telegram.

John Kirby,

a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said the U.S. would continue to provide aid to help Ukraine defend itself.

“These strikes…are just another reminder of how [Russian President

Vladimir] Putin

continues to drive the Ukrainian people to their knees, and just the utter brutality of continuing to strike clearly civilian targets with that goal in mind,” Mr. Kirby told reporters.

He did not provide details about reports of the strikes at the Russian air bases.

Russia’s defense ministry accused Ukraine of attacking the bases with Soviet-designed jet drones that flew at a low altitude. The drones were intercepted by Russian air defense, it said, and the damage on the air bases was caused by drone debris. The claims couldn’t be independently verified.

A firefighter at a building in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk that was destroyed by shelling.



Photo:

ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/REUTERS

Mr. Kim, the Mykolaiv regional governor, referred to the Engels explosion in a social-media post on Monday, saying “they will have two fewer planes” for missile attacks on Ukraine.

Russian officials informed Mr. 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.

Russia has blamed Ukraine for a series of attacks inside Russian territory. If Ukraine was behind Monday’s explosions, it would suggest an expanded capability to hit military targets deep inside Russia. The two explosions occurred more than 300 miles from Russia’s border with Ukraine.

Since the first months of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine this year, explosions have hit Russian military bases close to Ukraine, including a series of apparent attacks in Russia’s Belgorod region.

The attacks serve Kyiv’s aims of disrupting Russia’s supply lines that bring military hardware and soldiers to the war in Ukraine. They also serve a psychological purpose, demonstrating Russia’s vulnerability to attack as the assault on Ukraine wears on.

Russia has also blamed Ukraine for a series of attacks on the Crimean Peninsula, a region of Ukraine that has been occupied by Russia since 2014. An explosion damaged the bridge linking Russia to Crimea in October, showing how Ukraine can strike targets with symbolic and strategic importance to the Kremlin.

TASS reported that part of the damaged bridge reopened to car traffic on Monday, and that Mr. Putin drove across the newly repaired section in a car with Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnillin, who reported to the president on the repair work. 

During Monday’s Russian missile barrage, a section of an unidentified rocket was found in a village in neighboring Moldova, the country’s Interior Ministry said in a post on Facebook. A border-police patrol found the remnant near the town of Briceni, near Moldova’s border with Ukraine, the ministry said. The post didn’t say whether anyone was injured in the incident. 

In November, two people in Poland were killed by a rocket during a Russia missile barrage against Ukraine. Western governments said the rocket was likely fired by Ukrainian antimissile defenses and landed in Poland accidentally. 

Ukrainians have suffered from outages of power and heating just as winter starts to set in.



Photo:

dimitar dilkoff/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Another salvo of Russian missiles in the small hours of Monday struck Ukraine’s industrial and energy infrastructure overnight, according to Ukrainian officials. Three Russian missiles hit an industrial estate near the city of Kryviy Rih in southern Ukraine, killing one person who worked at the facility and injuring three others who were hospitalized, according to the region’s governor.

Another nighttime attack hit industrial infrastructure in the Zaporizhzhia region, the area’s governor said in a post on Telegram. No one was hurt in the attack, the governor said.

Heavy fighting continued in eastern Ukraine, with Russia launching seven missile strikes and 32 airstrikes along the front lines over the last day, Ukraine’s military general staff said.

Russia has refocused its firepower on the eastern Ukrainian front after withdrawing from the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine in November in a major strategic defeat for the Kremlin. Russia has sent waves of soldiers to attack the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, where months of intense fighting has drawn comparisons to the trench warfare of World War I.

Russia has slowed the tempo of its strikes inside Ukraine in recent months, according to an assessment released on Monday by the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense. Russia now carries out “tens” of combat aircraft sorties each day, down from a peak of up to 300 a day in March, the ministry said.

Russia has lost more than 60 fixed-wing aircraft since it invaded Ukraine in February, the ministry said.

“The decrease in sorties is likely a result of continued high threat from Ukrainian air defences, limitations on the flying hours available to Russian aircraft, and worsening weather,” the ministry said.

—Yuliya Chernova contributed to this article.

Write to Jared Malsin at jared.malsin@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications
A fuel tanker exploded at an airfield in Ryazan, southeast of Moscow. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said Ryazan was southwest of Moscow. (Corrected on Dec. 5)

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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