A Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-95MS strategic bomber taxis at the Engels-2 airfield in Russia's Saratov region. The base has reportedly been used as a launching platform for Tu-95 air strikes inside Ukraine. (file photo)
Explosions have been reported at two airfields in central Russia, hundreds of kilometers to the east of the combat zone in Ukraine. The incidents came as Russia has carried out a massive campaign of air strikes inside Ukraine targeting the country’s power grid and other civilian infrastructure.
At least one large explosion occurred at a Russian military air base in the Saratov region, about 600 kilometers east of Ukraine, while another blast was reported by Russian state media at an airfield outside Ryazan, southeast of Moscow.
Social-media posts by residents in the cities of Engels and Saratov seemed to show a large explosion at the Engels-2 air base at about 6 a.m. local time on December 5.
Saratov Governor Roman Busargin issued a statement calling for local residents to remain calm amid the reports but neither confirmed nor denied them.
“I want to state that no extraordinary events have taken place in the residential parts of the city,” he wrote.
“There is no reason for concern. No civilian infrastructure has been damaged. Information about events at military facilities is being checked by security agencies.”
There has been no confirmed information about the cause of the explosion.
The independent Russian Telegram channel Astra cited unidentified sources as saying an unidentified drone crashed into the base and that two long-range Tu-95 bombers were damaged and two military personnel were injured.
The Engels-2 air base has reportedly been used as a launching platform for Tu-95 air strikes inside Ukraine, against which Russia launched a massive, unprovoked military invasion on February 24.
Also on December 5, the RIA Novosti state news agency reported a fuel explosion at an airfield outside the city of Ryazan, about 200 kilometers southeast of Moscow.
According to the report, three people were killed and six injured in the incident, and one aircraft was damaged.
The Visegrad 24 news agency reported that the blast occurred at the Dyagilevo military airfield, which is also a strategic bomber base.
Officials in the Ryazan region have not commented on the reports.