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Russian Federation Evacuates Strategic Bombers From Near Saratov After Ukrainian Drone Strike

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Russian Federation Evacuates Strategic Bombers From Near Saratov After Ukrainian Drone Strike

At least six bombers have been relocated.

At least six strategic bombers have been moved from the base in Engelsk to an undisclosed location after the Ukrainian drone strike. This was pointed out by Kiryl Ovsyany, a journalist of the Schemes investigative project, after studying satellite images.

On Monday, December 5, drones attacked the Engels-1 airfield in Saratov Region and the Dyagilevo airfield in Ryazan Region, the Russian Defence Ministry said. According to the ministry, the explosion at Engels "damaged the hull plating of two aircraft", while at the other airfield three military men were killed and four wounded. Meanwhile, Engels-1 is more than 750km from the Ukrainian border, while Dyagilevo is less than 600km away.

Kyiv did not confirm directly that the attack on the base had been carried out by the AFU. "The earth is round. <...> If something is launched into the airspace of other countries, sooner or later unidentified flying objects will return to the point of departure," Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Ukrainian presidential office, wrote on Twitter.

Previously, it was believed that Ukrainian drones could not attack targets at such a long distance. In at least one of the two cases, the strike was carried out with the help of special military men who were in the vicinity of the airfield and helped guide the drones to the target, a senior Ukrainian official told The New York Times (NYT) on condition of anonymity.

The attack could also have been carried out by a long-range Tu-141 drone, which Ukraine previously used, Samuel Bendett, an expert on Russian drones, told American Forbes.

"We know it can fly long distances, since at least one of them crashed in Croatia. Some of them may still be in the possession of the Ukrainian army," Bendett said.

What Bendett finds more mysterious is why Russian air defences failed to intercept it. After a drone attack on Russia's Saki airbase in Novofedorivka in August, a meme with the caption "What Air Defence Doing?" went viral on social media. Meaning why the Russian air defence could not cope with AFU drones. Since then, such attacks by Ukrainian drones have been repeated many times. Bendett says there is no coherent explanation as to why Russian air defence systems cope so poorly.

"This drone - if it was a drone - flew hundreds of kilometres unhindered. There may be gaps in the Russian air defence system," Bendett said. He said there could be problems with the air defence units, which spotted the drone but mistook it for a friendly one.