Three Russian military personnel have been killed from the debris of a Ukrainian drone that was shot down and fell on a military base deep inside Russia, the country’s defence ministry has said.
“On December 26, at about 01:35 Moscow time, a Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down at low altitude while approaching the Engels military airfield in the Saratov region,” the Russian Defence Ministry said on Monday.
“As a result of the fall of the wreckage of the drone, three Russian servicemen of the technical staff who were at the airfield were fatally wounded.”
The ministry added that aviation equipment was not damaged. Earlier on Monday, Roman Busargin, the governor of the Saratov region, said that civil infrastructure facilities were not damaged in the incident either.
The airbase, near the city of Saratov, sits about 730 kilometres (450 miles) southeast of Moscow, far from the front line of Russia’s war with Ukraine. But it was also hit on December 5 in what Moscow said was a attack by Ukrainian drones on two Russian air bases that day.
The twin attacks dealt Moscow a considerable reputational blow and raised questions about why its defences failed, analysts said.
Ukraine has never publicly claimed responsibility for attacks inside Russia but has said, however, that such incidents are “karma” for Russia’s invasion.
Drones have emerged as a leading weapon for both sides during the conflict. Ukraine has accused Iran of supplying drones that Russia has deployed to target civilian infrastructure, including in the capital Kyiv.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has used sea and air drones to attack the Crimean port of Sevastopol, home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet, in addition to taking aim at Russian air bases in Crimea and beyond.