The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, a critical turning point emerged as Ukrainian forces executed a precise drone strike against Moscow’s strategic long-range bomber, the Tupolev Tu-22, stationed at the Soltsy-2 airbase. This strike resulted in the bomber’s destruction and marked a significant shift in the dynamics of the conflict.
The Tupolev Tu-22 was a formidable strategic bomber, capable of reaching speeds twice that of sound, and had been employed by Russian forces to attack Ukrainian cities. The strike against it was deemed decisive due to its potential to inflict considerable damage.
The attack, carried out by a drone of the copter-type variety, occurred at approximately 10:00 Moscow time (08:00 BST) on a Saturday, as confirmed by the Russian Ministry of Defence. The strike targeted a military airfield in the Novgorod region, where the Soltsy-2 airbase is situated.
In its official statement, the Russian Ministry of Defence revealed that the drone was detected by the airfield’s surveillance outpost and was engaged with small-arms fire. While the “terrorist act” resulted in damage to an aircraft, there were no reported casualties. Fire that broke out in the airfield’s parking area was swiftly extinguished.
This bold move by Ukraine underscores its capacity for a counteroffensive, which had been eagerly anticipated following President Volodymyr Zelensky’s vow to bring the war into Russian territories earlier in the month. Notably, recent drone attacks by Ukraine on Moscow have surged.
In January, prosecutors in Kyiv disclosed that 30 individuals lost their lives when a missile launched from a Tu-22 struck a residential building in Dnipro. The attack was attributed to Russia’s 52nd Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment, stationed at Soltsy-2.
Ukraine’s defence intelligence service reported on Monday that another military aircraft had sustained damage in a drone attack in Russia’s Kaluga region. Russian media corroborated this, citing the defence ministry’s claim that air defences had intercepted an aircraft bound for Moscow, thereby thwarting another attempted “Ukrainian” strike on the capital.