Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Workers check a transformer damaged by a Russian missile attack at DTEK's power plant in Ukraine, on Monday, April 1, 2024.Evgeniy Maloletka/The Associated Press

Ukraine attacked Russia’s Morozovsk military air base in the Rostov region, destroying six Russian warplanes in a joint operation conducted by the SBU security service and military, a Kyiv intelligence source told Reuters on Friday.

Reuters could not independently verify the claim. The source did not say how the attack was conducted but that eight more warplanes had also been damaged.

Russia’s RIA news agency cited the Russian defence ministry earlier as saying Russian air defences had downed 53 Ukrainian drones overnight, most of them over the Rostov region.

The source said the Morozovsk air base was used by Russian tactical bombers like the Sukhoi Su-24 and Su-24M that Moscow’s air force uses to fire guided bombs at the Ukrainian military and frontline towns and cities.

The source described the operation as an important one.

Ukraine has significantly stepped up its drone attacks on targets in Russia in recent weeks, focusing on oil refineries in an effort to reduce Russian oil revenue.

A senior government official told Reuters earlier this year that Ukraine hoped to produce thousands of long-range drones in 2024, part of a priority defence programme in its war with Russia.

Unable to rapidly produce long-range missiles and with limited access to those made by Western allies, Kyiv has focused on developing long-range uncrewed vehicles to strike back at Russia, which has used a sprawling arsenal of missiles and drones to bomb Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military said on Friday it was in a “very difficult” battlefield situation near the eastern town of Chasiv Yar, but denied Russian reports that Moscow’s troops had reached its suburbs.

Russian forces are inching forward in the east after capturing Ukraine’s long-time eastern bastion of Avdiivka in February. Ukraine is trying to dig in, but it faces shortages of artillery rounds with U.S. aid stuck in Congress for months.

A rapid capture of Chasiv Yar, a town with a pre-war population of 12,200 situated west of the ruined, Russian-occupied city of Bakhmut, would mark a grim setback for Kyiv and indicate mounting Russian battlefield momentum.

Russia’s RIA news agency cited an official as saying Russian troops had entered the suburbs of the town, which Moscow sees as an important staging point for Kyiv’s troops that is also heavily fortified.

Andriy Zadubinnyi, spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern command said the report was untrue.

“The situation there is very difficult, the fighting continues, but they (Russian troops) are not there,” he said by telephone. “Don’t believe the Russian reports.”

On Thursday, Serhii Chaus, the mayor, described the situation in Chasiv Yar as the most difficult since Russia began its full-scale invasion more than two years ago, in comments broadcast by the Ukrainian Espreso TV channel.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Russia may plan to stage a new offensive against Ukraine in late May or summer, but that Kyiv has a battlefield plan of its own.

Russia has stepped up its long-range air strikes on energy infrastructure in recent weeks, causing large-scale outages in parts of the country.

After taking the Ukrainian town of Avdiivka in February, Russian forces have tried to advance slowly, taking advantage of delays in Western military aid for Ukraine.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe