Russian Air Base Is Attacked, as Ukraine Discounts Escalation Threat

“If the Russians thought that no one at home would be affected by the war, then they were deeply mistaken,” Colonel Ihnat said. He added that explosions at Russian airfields complicated the bombing campaign against Ukraine, forcing Moscow to relocate some of its aircraft, though no one is claiming that the strikes have seriously impeded the Russian barrage.

The Dec. 5 attacks were carried out using a Soviet-era, jet-powered surveillance drone, modified to function as an offensive weapon, according to Russian and Ukrainian officials, shortly after a state-owned Ukrainian contractor said it had developed an attack drone with a range of over 600 miles — more than enough to reach Moscow.

The U.S. reaction to the Dec. 5 assaults was muted. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said, “We are not working to prevent Ukraine from developing their own capability.” Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, stated only that the United States was neither encouraging nor enabling attacks on Russia.

Both the State and Defense Departments declined to comment on the reported drone strike on Monday.

The attacks have further infuriated pro-war Russian commentators, who have railed about their country’s exposed vulnerabilities. They had already expressed anger over the Russian military’s poor combat performance. Not only have Russian air defenses failed to stop at least some of the strikes, but Ukrainian officials have also said that some were enabled by Ukrainian partisans or special forces operating behind the lines.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, told The Associated Press on Monday that his government wanted to hold a “peace summit,” hopefully mediated by the United Nations’ secretary general, António Guterres, by late February, but that Russia could not be invited unless it first faced prosecution for war crimes. It was the latest in a string of claims by each country to be open to peace talks — but only on terms that are unacceptable to the other.

In the past three months, Russia has launched waves of missiles and drones at Ukraine, sending as many as 100 at a time in a bid to overwhelm air defenses. They have targeted civilian infrastructure like the electrical grid and heating plants, pitching millions of people at a time into the cold and dark amid dangerous winter weather.

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