The brazen attack had everything: drones, special forces, and operations at long range.
In response, the Russian military launched another heavy barrage of ballistic and cruise missiles against Ukrainian cities and critical infrastructure.
The Russian Casualties
Russian casualty figures continue to grow.
According to official Ukrainian estimates, which are somewhat corroborated by Western defense and intelligence sources as well as independent open-source intelligence, the Russian military is losing an average of 500 troops every day. Such horrific casualties inflict multiple adverse effects on a military.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 92,200 Russian troops (and wounded between two and three times that number). They have also destroyed a claimed 281 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets; 264 attack and transport helicopters; 2,929 tanks, 1,915 artillery pieces, and 5,905 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles; 395 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems; 16 boats and cutters; 4,505 vehicles and fuel tanks; 211 anti-aircraft batteries; 1,587 tactical unmanned aerial systems; 163 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems; and 592 cruise missiles, which have been shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.
Ukraine Strikes Deep Into Russia
In the early morning hours on Monday, Ukrainian forces attacked Engels Airbase, in Russia’s Saratov province, and Dyagilevo Airbase, near Moscow. Both airbases are about 300 miles from Ukraine.
Senior Ukrainian officials claim that the attack used drones and special forces, with a least one of the strikes involving commandos who directed the drones to the target.
“[I]f Russia assesses the incidents were deliberate attacks, it will probably consider them as some of the most strategically significant failures of force protection since its invasion of Ukraine,” British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war. “The sites are much deeper inside Russia than previous similar explosions: Engels is over 600 km from Ukrainian-controlled territory.”
Engels Airbase is an important strategic target. It houses one of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ most important commands: the Long Range Aviation (LRA), whose more than 30 heavy bombers include Tu-95 Bear strategic aircraft that can carry nuclear weapons.
“These aircraft contribute to Russia’s nuclear deterrent and have also frequently been used to launch conventional cruise missiles at Ukraine. The LRA is likely to respond by temporarily moving bombers to dispersal airfields,” British intelligence added.
This latest attack on home territory will certainly reverberate within the Russian security apparatus.
“The Russian chain of command will probably seek to identify and impose severe sanctions on Russian officers deemed responsible for allowing the incident,” British intelligence assessed.
Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy and Cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.