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New Images Emerge of Russian Tu-22M3 Supersonic Bomber Targeted in Drone Strike

New photographs have emerged online, showing what appears to be a Russian Tu-22M3 supersonic bomber aircraft engulfed in flames following a drone attack. The incident has raised tensions as Moscow blames Kyiv for the strike deep within Russian territory.

Images Reveal Fireball

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Recently shared images on social media, including those posted by Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s internal ministry, depict what seems to be a portion of an aircraft amidst a fiery explosion, with thick smoke rising into the sky. The photos also capture what appears to be a military base runway in the foreground.

Alleged Damage at Russian Airbase

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These images are said to illustrate the aftermath of a long-range strike on Russia’s Soltsy airbase, an attack that Moscow attributes to Ukraine.

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Quadcopter Aerial Drone Employed

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In an official statement, Russia’s Defense Ministry stated that Ukraine employed a quadcopter aerial drone to target a military airfield in Novgorod around 10 a.m. Moscow time, resulting in damage to one aircraft.

Drone Hit by Small Arms

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The Russian defense ministry reported that the drone was “hit by small arms fire” and that fire brigades managed to extinguish a fire at the airfield where the aircraft were stationed. Notably, the Novgorod airfield lies several hundred miles away from the Ukrainian border.

Use of Drones in the Conflict

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Ukraine’s air force has previously accused Moscow’s air force of using Tu-22M3 long-range bombers stationed in Soltsy to launch Kh-22 cruise missiles at Ukrainian territory. Additionally, airborne and waterborne drones have increasingly been employed for attacks within Russia’s recognized borders.

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Uncertainty Surrounding Images

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Over the weekend, various reports emerged online, showing smoke rising from the Soltsy airbase. However, the authenticity and timing of these images published on social media remain unverified. Newsweek has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment via email.

Tu-22M3 Relocation to Arctic Peninsula

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Following the drone strike, some reports suggested that Russia had relocated several of its Tu-22M3 strategic supersonic bombers from Novgorod to a base in the Arctic Kola Peninsula.

Criticism from Milbloggers

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The attack on Soltsy has drawn criticism from Russia’s influential military blogger community, according to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

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Need For Protective Measures Such as Netting

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These “milbloggers” have criticized the Russian Defense Ministry for not safeguarding its aircraft in hangars or employing basic protective measures such as netting to counter quadcopter attacks.

Assessment by Think Tank

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The ISW noted that while damaging or destroying two Tu-22M3 strategic bombers may not have a significant direct military impact, it can contribute to undermining Russian morale. This assessment highlights the broader context in which such deep attacks support larger Ukrainian efforts to degrade Russian morale.

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