A Ukrainian drone attack on a military air base in southern Russia killed three Russian service members over the holiday weekend.
“If Russians thought that war won’t touch them in their deep rear, they were deeply wrong,” Ukrainian air defense spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said of the attack, according to a Bloomberg report.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Monday that the three Russian service members died as a result of falling wreckage after its forces shot down the Ukrainian drones, while no aircraft were damaged in the attack.
The holiday attack on Engels Air Base, which is in Russia’s Saratov region and is situated over 300 miles from the country’s border with Ukraine, is the second attack the air base has seen in less than a month. On Dec. 5, a similar attack on the base damaged two Tu-95 bombers. Ukraine has not officially claimed responsibility for either attack.
The reported attack comes as the Ukrainian military claimed Sunday that Russia fired over 40 missiles into Ukrainian towns on Christmas Day but did not release any reports on damage or casualties in the attack.
The exchange between the two countries comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a high-profile trip to the U.S. to meet with President Biden and address a joint meeting of Congress last week, when he appealed to Americans and Western allies to continue support for his country’s defense against Russia’s military invasion.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Sunday that Moscow was open to peace talks but accused Ukraine and the West of not engaging the Kremlin.
“We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them – we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,” Putin said during an interview on Russian state television.
However, the U.S. and Ukraine have continued to deny Russia has shown any openness to talks, with Zelenskyy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak arguing Sunday that Putin was attempting to side-step responsibility for the deaths of Ukraine’s citizens.
“Russia single-handedly attacked Ukraine and is killing citizens,” the adviser said. “Russia doesn’t want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility.”
In a Christmas address to Ukrainians, Zelenskyy boasted that Ukrainian forces had continued to hand Putin defeats on the battlefield but warned residents to be “ready for any scenario” as the conflict drags on into 2023.
“Russia has lost everything it could this year. … I know darkness will not prevent us from leading the occupiers to new defeats,” he said. “But we have to be ready for any scenario.”
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