Ukraine used domestically-modified drones to strike two military airbases in Russia on Dec. 5, Politico reported, citing two people familiar with the operation.
The drones were modified Tu-141 surveillance aircraft from the Soviet era, the two individuals told Politico.
The move both showcases Ukraine's ability to innovate on the battlefield and strike targets deep inside Russia, Politico wrote.
“The key success factor was a surprise. Russia just did not expect anything of this sort,” one of the individuals, who works in the Ukrainian government, told Politico. “Now they will be prepared.”
Ukraine's Western allies have so far refused to provide the country with longer-range missiles over fears the weapons could be used to hit targets within Russia.
The airbases that Ukraine hit on Dec. 5 are located in Russia's Saratov and Ryazan oblasts, located hundreds of kilometers from the Ukrainian border. Among them was the Engels airbase, home to Russia’s strategic bomber planes “capable of carrying nuclear bombs and nuclear-armed cruise missiles,” Reuters reported.
Three Russian military personnel were killed, and four were wounded, state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported, quoting Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.