A video has emerged showing a man preparing and planting explosives on a Russian military helicopter at an air base deep in Russia.
Subsequent satellite images show several destroyed helicopters at the base in the Pskov region in northern Russia. The base is about 35 kilometers from the border with Latvia, but about 1,000 kilometers from Ukraine.
The helicopter sabotage is as far from Ukrainian territory as an attack against a Russian military target has been confirmed since the conflict began.
The video shows an unidentified man placing an object inside a helicopter. At some point, he puts something in his ear, maybe it’s temporary. At another moment, a Ka-52 attack helicopter could be clearly seen.
The video was filmed in broad daylight but the explosions did not occur until after dark, according to unofficial Russian media. CNN has geolocated the video to the Veretye base in Beredniki.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian Defense Intelligence said that “a powerful explosion occurred at the air base of the Russian Armed Forces” Ferter “on the night of October 31”.
While she did not claim that a Ukrainian sabotage unit carried out the attack, she said that “as a result of the mining, two Russian helicopters (KA-52) and one Mi-28N were completely destroyed. Two others were significantly damaged.”
A satellite image released on Tuesday showed several damaged helicopters at the base, and an unofficial Russian media reported there had been explosions.
And the “Al-Baza” channel said on Telegram: “About ten o’clock in the evening [on October 31]Soldiers in the unit heard several explosions and then saw the wreckage of two helicopters scattered. The explosion was so powerful that fragments of the fuselage scattered over a distance of 200 meters. The cause of the Ka-52 explosion is unknown.
Such a daring attack, far from the homeland, will be the first for the Ukrainian special forces. Although there is no confirmation that they carried out the sabotage attack, the speed with which the Ukrainian Defense Intelligence reported the details of the incident is at least interesting.
The symbolism of the sabotage is perhaps more important than its military consequences. Russia has hundreds of combat helicopters, and those damaged were nowhere near the theater of operations.
Ukrainian officials usually refuse to record any attacks in Russia itself, or even in annexed Crimea, but there have been several attacks near Ukrainian territory since the Russian invasion began. The railways in Belgorod, as well as ammunition depots, were damaged.
The Milerovo air base in the Rostov region was bombed – apparently by Tochka missiles – at the beginning of the conflict, and several aircraft were damaged. It remains unknown whether a devastating attack on a Russian air base in Crimea in August was carried out by special forces on the ground or by missiles.
The exact cause of last month’s attack on the Kerch bridge is also unknown. And Ukrainians seem too happy not to acknowledge such attacks.