Ukraine says it has intercepted more than 60 missiles as Russia unleashed a fresh bombardment that destroyed houses and demolished more energy infrastructure.
The deadly new wave came hours after Russian media reported two explosions on the homeland at military airbases, with three servicemen killed and four injured.
Later, Moscow accused Ukraine of launching “Soviet-made, low-flying” drones to target Russia’s warplanes at the airfields. Ukraine has not yet commented.
Russia said its air defences intercepted the drones.
The blasts rocked two Russian military airbases in the Ryazan and Saratov regions, with one of the bases reportedly housing nuclear-capable strategic bombers.
Media reported that a fuel truck exploded at the base in Ryazan which houses long-range flight tankers that refuel bombers in the air.
Separately, authorities in the Saratov region reported an explosion near the Engels air base, which houses Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers that have launched strikes on Ukraine.
Those bombers are capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
Hours later, Russia rained down missiles into Ukraine for the eighth time in this phase of the war, which began in early October.
The barrage destroyed houses in the Zaporizhzhia region, killing two people, and again demolishing energy infrastructure.
Putin goes driving
Meanwhile Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a statement by driving a Mercedes across the Crimea Bridge linking Russia to the annexed peninsula.
Mr Putin also walked across a section of the bridge — the longest in Europe and a symbol of Russia’s claim — which was destroyed during an embarrassing attack in October.
The 19-kilometre road and rail bridge, which was opened by Mr Putin in 2018, was bombed a day after his 70th birthday which Russia blamed on Ukraine (Ukraine never claimed responsibility).
Mr Putin, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, was shown on state television behind the wheel of a Mercedes, asking questions about where the attack took place.
“We are driving on the right hand side,” Mr Putin said, as he drove across the bridge.
“The left side of the bridge, as I understand it, is in working condition, but nevertheless it needs to be completed. It still suffered a little, we need to bring it to an ideal state.”
Missiles in Moldova
Moldovan police have found fragments of a missile that came down in a region of northern Moldova near the border with Ukraine.
Moldovan authorities did not immediately comment publicly on the incident, which was reported after Russia carried out a new wave of missile strikes on Ukraine.
Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko, responding to media reports about the incident, repeated calls for Ukraine to receive more missile defence systems from its allies.
“This once again proves that Russian missile terror poses a huge threat not only to the security of Ukraine but also to the security of neighbouring countries,” he said in a statement.
Russia did not immediately comment on the reports.
Missile debris also landed in a northern Moldovan village after Ukrainian air defences intercepted a Russian missile during a previous wave of attacks on October 31, Moldova’s interior ministry said at the time.
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