Explosions rock 2 military bases in Russia, according to some Russian media
By Marc Santora and Ivan Nechepurenko
Explosions rocked two Russian military bases on Monday, according to some Russian media, including an airfield that Kyiv officials said has been used as a staging location for the bombers whose missiles have ravaged Ukraine’s energy grid.
It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion at either military installation, and the full extent of any damage was also unclear.
Hours after the blasts were reported, Ukrainian officials said Russia had launched a volley of missiles at targets throughout the country. Two people were killed and two others wounded in a Russian strike in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a senior official in the Ukrainian president’s office.
Of the two explosions reported in Russia, one hit the Engels-2 air base, which is near the southwestern city of Saratov, hundreds of miles from the Ukrainian border, and hosts Russian strategic bombers, according to Astra, a Russian news outlet.
In Washington, a Defense Department official said that the Pentagon had seen evidence of an explosion at the Engels base. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Earlier on Monday, an explosion at a military base in the city of Ryazan killed three people and wounded six others, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported. It said that a fuel truck had exploded, citing a statement from the local emergency services, but did not say what had caused the explosion.
Ukraine did not take responsibility for either blast. In the past it has remained deliberately ambiguous about its military’s involvement in strikes in Russian territory. But military and political officials took note of reports circulating in Russian news media.
Roman Busargin, the governor of the Saratov region, issued a statement urging residents to remain calm as word of a loud blast at the air base spread across social media channels.
“I want to assure you that no emergencies occurred in the residential areas of the city,” he said. “Information about incidents at military facilities is checked by law enforcement agencies.”
Dmitri Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, said that he was aware of reports about the two incidents but did not have “precise information” and was unable to comment. He said that President Vladimir Putin also had been informed about the reports, the Russian state news agency Tass reported.
The Engels air base and the Ryazan military installation are between 300 and 450 miles from the Ukrainian border, which is beyond the range of any known missile in Ukraine’s arsenal.
The blast at the Engels airfield prompted some of Russia’s influential pro-invasion bloggers to call for more strikes against Ukraine, and to renew criticism of the Russian armed forces. “Sometimes we feel that even if you put a bomb into these people’s pockets — they wouldn’t notice anyway,” Voenniy Osvedomitel, a popular commentator, wrote on the messaging app Telegram.
After the explosions, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, appeared to note the strikes obliquely, as Ukrainian officials have often done after unexplained explosions inside Russia.
“The Earth is round — discovery made by Galileo,” he wrote on Twitter. “If something is launched into other countries’ airspace, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to departure point.”
Only a few hours after the explosions, Ukrainian officials said that more than a dozen Russian bombers had taken off from the Engels air base.