NEW YORK, December 6. /TASS/. Kiev’s attempts to attack Russian airfields indicate a new and dangerous turn in the conflict, and in the future Ukraine will make another try, targeting only military facilities, the former commander-in-chief of NATO’s forces in Europe, retired Admiral of the US Navy James Stavridis, said on Tuesday.
"Reports of significant attacks against two Russian air bases are a new and dangerous twist in the Ukraine war. One of the explosions was at the Engels-1 air base in the Saratov region, the other at Dyagilevo in the Ryazan area - both hundreds of miles inside the Russia-Ukraine border," said Stavridis in a column published by Bloomberg.
The analyst stresses that Kiev has not openly claimed responsibility for the attack, but at the same time "it hasn’t denied culpability."
The way he sees it, Ukraine's leadership will continue to deny strikes on Russian territory, but there is no doubt that they will inflict them. "These strikes may have been calibrated to serve simply as a demonstration of Ukrainian capability. Going ahead, Kiev can go bigger, but will be careful to strike only purely military targets," says Stavridis.
He believes that "the Western backers will try to restrain the Ukrainians from launching larger-scale attacks, hoping to reduce the risk of the conflict spiraling further and drawing in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization directly."
"NATO will try to mollify the Ukrainians by offering more and better surface-to-air missiles to defend their cities, and may seriously consider supplying combat aircraft," Stavridis speculates.
Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry told the media that on Monday morning, Kiev attempted strikes with Soviet-made jet drones at the military airfields of Dyagilevo in the Ryazan Region and Engels in the Saratov Region with the aim to disable Russia’s long-range aircraft. The Defense Ministry said the air defense systems of the Aerospace Force intercepted the Ukrainian drones flying at low altitudes.
The White House has offered no comment. The US company Maxar has said that its remote sensing satellites were filming the Engels airfield in the Saratov Region before Ukraine’s attempted strikes. The airfield was photographed on December 3 and 4. The satellite photos of the Dyagilevo airfield in the Ryazan Region were updated at the end of October.