- Steve Ronberg and Yaroslav Lukev
- BBC News
Moscow said that a Ukrainian drone attack on a bomber air base in southern Russia killed three people.
The Ministry of Defense said that the air defenses shot down the drone near the Ingels base, but the falling debris fatally injured three technical staff.
Earlier this month, Russia accused Ukraine of launching a similar attack on the airport, which houses bombers that carried out missile attacks on Ukraine.
The base is located about 500 km northeast of the Ukrainian border.
The Ukrainian military did not officially acknowledge carrying out the latest attack, but Air Force spokesman Yury Ihnat said it was the result of what Russia was doing on Ukrainian soil.
The latest incident will be a cause for embarrassment for the Russian authorities, as it comes so soon after the December 5 attack hundreds of kilometers from the front line – both at the Engels base and in the Ryazan region.
Russia said falling debris killed three soldiers and what it described as minor damage to two aircraft.
Videos of explosions and sirens in the vicinity of Engels Airport were posted on social media early Monday.
The Russian Defense Ministry said afterward that its air defenses shot down the low-flying drone at around 01:35 on Monday.
Roman Busargin, the governor of Saratov, expressed his condolences to the men’s families and friends, and said there was “absolutely no threat to residents” in the town of Engels itself.
A Ukrainian Air Force spokesman said satellite images of the airport would soon reveal the full damage from Monday’s attack, adding that previous explosions had damaged planes at the base.
Russia has repeatedly used the Engels base to carry out missile strikes on various targets in Ukraine since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion on February 24.
The Kremlin has accused Ukraine of attacking Russian territory before, but the alleged attacks this December were deeper in Russia than previous attacks.