Russia accused Ukraine of launching what appeared to be the biggest drone attack on Russian soil since Moscow invaded 18 months ago, followed by a Russian attack on Kyiv that Ukrainian officials said killed two people early Wednesday.
Drones hit an airport in Russia’s western Pskov region near the border with Estonia and Latvia, and started a massive fire, the governor and local media reported. More drones were shot down over Oryol, Bryansk, Ryazan, Kaluga and the Moscow region surrounding the Russian capital, according to the Defense Ministry.
Pskov regional Gov. Mikhail Vedernikov ordered all flights to and from the airport in the region’s namesake capital canceled Wednesday so the damage could be assessed during daylight.
The airport strike, which was first reported minutes before midnight, damaged four Il-76 transport aircraft, Russia’s state news agency Tass reported, citing emergency officials.
Footage and images posted on social media showed smoke billowing over the city of Pskov and a large blaze. Vedernikov said there were no casualties, and the fire has been contained. Unconfirmed media reports said between 10 and 20 drones could have attacked the airport.
In Kyiv, falling debris killed two people and injured another after Russia launched a “massive combined attack” on the Ukrainian capital using drones and missiles, head of the military administration Sergei Popko wrote on Telegram.
In what Popko said was the biggest attack since spring, Russia launched Shahed drones at Kyiv from various directions and then targeted the capital with missiles from Tu-95MS strategic aircraft. He said more than 20 targets had been brought down by Ukraine’s air defenses. It was unclear how many had been launched.
The deaths and injury occurred when debris fell on a commercial building in the Shevchenkivskyi district, Popko said.
Explosions in Ukraine were also reported in the southern city of Odesa and the Cherkasy region.
In Russia, Pskov was the only region reporting substantial damage. In Kaluga, one drone was brought down and another hit an empty oil reservoir, causing a fire that was quickly extinguished, region Gov. Vladislav Shapsha reported. Residential windows were shattered, Shapsha said.
Three drones were shot down over the Bryansk region, according to the Russian military, and some Russian media cited residents as saying they heard a loud explosion. Two drones were downed over the Oryol region, its Gov. Andrei Klychkov said. Two more were downed over the Ryazan region and one over the Moscow region, officials said.
Outside Moscow, three main airports, Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo and Domodedovo, temporarily halted all incoming and outgoing flights, a measure that has become routine in the wake of the drone attacks.
There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials, who usually refuse to take responsibility for any attacks on the Russian soil.
Also early Wednesday, Russian-installed officials in the annexed Crimea reported repelling an attack of drones targeting the harbor of the port city of Sevastopol. Moscow-appointed governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozzhayev said it wasn’t immediately clear how many of the drones have been destroyed. It wasn’t immediately clear if the attack caused any damage.
Drone attacks on Crimea or Russian regions have become increasingly common in recent months, with Moscow being a frequent target, as well as regions that border with Ukraine, such as Bryansk. Fuel depots and air fields have been hit in drone attacks Russian officials blamed on Kyiv.
The Oryol and Kaluga regions border with Bryansk, and the Moscow region sits on top of Kaluga. Pskov, however, is about 700 kilometers, 434 miles, north of Russia’s border with Ukraine, and has been described by Russian media and military bloggers on Wednesday morning as an unlikely target.