Tuesday night, the Ukrainian Armed Forces attacked several Russian cities and military installations as well as the Black Sea Fleet’s Sevastopol homeport in Crimea.
This is the largest single-night attack on Russia since the war began. It seems to mark a new phase in the war where Ukraine is no longer concerned about Russian threats of escalation but is attempting to wrest the political initiative from Vladimir Putin in addition to the operational tempo of the war, which they already control.
A combined UAV and USV attack hit the home port of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. There were no claims of damage.
⚡️It was not calm tonight in the temporarily occupied Sevastopol. 🇺🇦Ukrainian surface and aerial drones attacked the Sevastopol Bay area – local residents report explosions and intensive use of air defense systems and automatic weapons. pic.twitter.com/1z8dReYQGE
— 🇺🇦Ukrainian Front (@front_ukrainian) August 30, 2023
There is no word on how many drones struck Tula or the target, but it was probably a major military airbase there. There was damage, but no information as to what or how much.
Starting 01:17, drone attack reached other regions.
In Kaluga region, a tank for petroleum products was hit. Russian media claims it was empty.
Air defense worked in Orel, Moscow and Ryazan regions. Moscow’s airports closed as usual.
📍 Explosion in Tula pic.twitter.com/BZRnGL3PaB
— Be brave like Ukraine 🌻 (@ukrbravery) August 30, 2023
Ukrainian UAV attacks were reported on Ryazam. The target was the headquarters of Vozdushno-desantnye voyska Rossii, the VDV, or Russian Airborne forces. This was highly symbolic as the 76th Guards Air Assault Regiment of the VDV is locked in hand-to-gland combat around Robotyne.
#Ryazan in Russland 🇷🇺💥💥💥💥
— @BrennpunktUA 🇩🇪🇺🇦 (@BrennpunktUA) August 30, 2023
Ukrainian UAVs hit Lipetsk. There is no video of the strike or information on the target(s) or damage.
No video is available, but Russian media reports that Ukrainian drones struck the oil refinery in Kaluga. There is no word on the damage.
Ukrainian drones attacked a defense electronics manufacturing facility and the Druzhba oil depot. There are no reports on the degree of damage inflicted.
In Bryansk, a Ukrainian UAV reportedly hit the Kremniy EL plant. It is one of the largest Russian manufacturers of microelectronics.
Governor of the region Alexander Bogomaz said all drones were shot down.
— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) August 29, 2023
Targets in Bryansk are under attack again tonight.
New explosions in Bryansk pic.twitter.com/4lAKFGTT14
— Giorgi Revishvili (@revishvilig) August 30, 2023
Bryansk CCtv footage from a different angle pic.twitter.com/o0JN8SQvzT
— Booyah Varenyky🌻🚜🌻 (@booyavarenyky) August 30, 2023
A helicopter gunship shot down a Ukrainian UAV. There is no information on its target or how many drones were in the strike package.
Very interesting footage
Moment of destruction of a presumably UAV in Oryol region russia
Looks like it was gunned down by a fighter jet pic.twitter.com/5kCkZEzFIB
— med yassine (@med_yassine303) August 29, 2023
Ironically, a Wagner Group PMC decal was affixed to the downed drone. I don’t think anyone believes that was a Wagner action, but it was good trolling by the Ukrainians.
Will we see a surprise?
In the Oryol region, Russia (wher locate betwwen Kursk and Moscow) , a UAV with the symbols of the “Wagner” PMC was planted. 👀 pic.twitter.com/UYLWTt2AzM
— Ukraine News 🇺🇦 (@Ukrainene) August 30, 2023
Pskov is the home of the Ostrov Airbase, home to Russian strategic bombers and airlift. Russian sources report a swarm of at least 21 drones hit the airbase.
🔥🔥 Pskov airport after alleged drone attack – sad voice says that 2 planes are burning and that they were told it’s drone attack but they don’t know whether it’s true or not
God I enjoy how depressed his voice sounds pic.twitter.com/O9QEfHrBwp
— Margo Gontar 🇺🇦 (@MargoGontar) August 30, 2023
The Russian state news agency, TASS, acknowledged four IL-76 transports damaged.
“Two aircraft were engulfed in fire” means at least two were total losses.
Commercial satellite imagery confirms two damaged aircraft, but part of the airbase could not be seen because of cloud cover.
👀 The first satellite images of the airfield near Pskov!
The photos show that at least 2 Il-76 aircraft were damaged. Also, near one of the planes, you can see two red cars that look like fire engines, which could have been used to extinguish the fire. pic.twitter.com/YHjytWDBwV
— MAKS 23 👀🇺🇦 (@Maks_NAFO_FELLA) August 30, 2023
The reaction to this strike has been particularly comical to watch. It is about 300 miles from the nearest Ukrainian territory to the Ostrov airbase. It is only 30 miles from Estonia to the target. Naturally, this means that one of two things. The British did it because that’s what they do.
As the Turks write, the attack on Pskov from Estonia was planned by the British in the person of the SAS special forces unit, with the involvement of seconded specialists from the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
Reconnaissance support was… pic.twitter.com/TLiuI2sWyw
— Victor vicktop55 (@vicktop55) August 30, 2023
Or the Ukrainians did it with the help of the Estonians, and that means WAR!!11!!!1!.
🚨‼️RUMOR: The drone swarm to Pskov was launched from Estonia, a NATO country.
Should it be confirmed … we have a bit problem. WW3ish kind of a problem. https://t.co/mYORzbNCr7 pic.twitter.com/DgCosbHzk7
— Lord Bebo (@MyLordBebo) August 29, 2023
Ignored are the highly likely possibilities that Ukrainian Special Operations Forces launched the attack. They hit a Russian airbase just 20 miles from Latvia months ago, but because Russia wasn’t obviously losing the war at that point, there was no soiling of undies; see Putin’s War, Week 36. Russian Mobilization Ends, Ukrainian Commandos Strike Deep Inside Russia, and What the Heck Is Happening in Kherson? The attack could also have been launched from sea and flown through Estonia airspace.
Russian media personalities are frothing. Here is Vladimir Solovyov being more Vladimir Solovyov than usual.
Vladimir Solovyov wonders whether the drones that hit a Russian military airfield in Pskov last night were launched from nearby Estonia
“If it’s true then Estonia must be wiped off the face of the earth!” pic.twitter.com/M8TNUBaEll
— Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) August 30, 2023
Solovyov opines on the massive drone strike at the RusAF base in Pskov, Russia, in a ballistic saliva rant while wearing a USSR tracksuit. #OSINT #UkraineRussiaWar️ #UkraineWar #Ukraine #Counteroffensive pic.twitter.com/ZTg5r0N2BK
— OSINT (Uri) 🇺🇦 (@UKikaski) August 30, 2023
As I’m writing this, more reports are rolling in from Crimea and Russia of Ukrainian drone attacks tonight. I think there are two separate politico-military strategies at play here.
First, politically, Putin is on the ropes. The “special military operation” has been a failure, and there is no satisfactory conclusion for Putin in the cards, no matter what Douglas Macgregor tells Tucker Carlson. The Russian economy is in tatters. It is held upright by oil and gas sales as its business and industry collapse. When Russian foreign exchange can no longer artificially support the ruble, which trades at about 100 to the dollar now, it will go into a freefall. About a million young Russians, Russians with skills and ambition, have fled to other countries to be able to work and avoid conscription. Russia’s middle class is becoming disenchanted with the war. As many as 300,000 young Russian men have been killed or wounded in Ukraine, and morale on the critical Southern Front seems to be on the cusp of a replay of 1917. He was hit by a mutiny led by one of his inner circle early this summer. He settled scores last week (Russian State Media Says Wagner Group Honcho Yevgeny Prigozhin Is Dead; What Comes Next?), but this affair still makes him look weak. The constant stream of drone attacks on Russia, over 190 at this writing, sap Putin’s strength and make his narrative of the New Tsar hard to believe.
With every drone strike at Moscow or a strategic airbase (The War in Ukraine Heats up as Drones Attack Russian Airbase Only 100 Miles From Moscow and Putin’s War, Week 78. Prigozhin Crashes, Two Russian Bomber Bases and Moscow Hit by Drones), the message proclaiming “the Tsar is not invincible and the war is lost” gets louder.
The second audience for last night’s message was Washington. Washington has resisted giving Ukraine the weaponry it needs to win this war because of its fear of “escalation.” This stupidity has increased the body count on both sides and hopefully earned the architects a hot place in Hell when they’ve finished doing all the damage they can do on Earth. The idea that the war can be confined to Ukraine is the same folly that prevented us from attacking “sanctuary” areas during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Ukraine is developing weapons that can strike into Russia. Those future weapons and these continual drone strikes on Moscow and other targets in Russia is a message to Washington: Give us what we need to win and have a vote in how we use it, or we’ll build our own and use it how we damned well please.
I’ll close this with one of the best military quotes from World War II. General Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris was the architect of the carpet-bombing campaign that devasted the German heartland. Things won’t get that bad for the Russians, but the same principle applies. A lot of Putin’s actions have been predicated on the assumption that Russia was invulnerable to attack and that he could bully NATO into submission. He was wrong.