Attack on Russian military air base in Pskov

Several Russian locations have been attacked by drones in recent days. A drone strike which destroyed parts of a military air base in Russia's Pskov region is making big headlines. The base is located around 700 kilometers from Ukraine, but less than 50 kilometers from Estonia. According to the Russian news agency Tass, four II-76 military transport aircraft were damaged. What are the implications of such attacks?

Open/close all quotes
Kirilo Sasonov (UA) /

Major impact inside and outside Russia

These attacks on Russian territory mark a turning point in the war, military officer Kirilo Sasonov comments in a Facebook post:

“Ukraine is beginning to destroy the enemy from within by carrying out devastating strikes in unexpected places - on certain objects in deep inside Russia that are important for the Russian army's combat capabilities in Ukraine. ... In addition to their direct military impact, these attacks also have a huge psychological impact: on the world, for which they are a clear demonstration of the weakness of the 'invincible' Russians, and on the Russian people, who are now facing their own 24 February.”

Echo (RU) /

Considerable disruption

Video blogger Maxim Katz explains on Echo why the impact of the attack goes far beyond the destruction of individual military aircraft:

“After every attack on a Russian airfield, all the planes are immediately moved elsewhere. After a few days, fresh satellite images show only bare concrete instead of a military base. ... This relocation may seem simple: planes take off from one runway and land on another - a matter of just a few hours. But along with the planes, pilots, spare parts, maintenance personnel and ammunition depots also have to be relocated. ... And what are the Russian planes not doing in the meantime? They're not launching missiles, dropping bombs or transporting military cargo.”

NV (UA) /

Moscow has no good explanation for this

From the Russian point of view there are no comfortable answers to the question of where the attack was launched from, notes former Ukrainian MP Borislav Beresa in NV:

“If they admit that the drones came from Ukraine, it would mean that we have technology that allows us to fly over large parts of Russia. ... If they say they suspect that the drones were launched from the territory of one of the EU states, which are NATO members, they would have to declare war on NATO. ... Or the drones were launched on Russian territory. This would mean that the Russian leadership and secret services are not in control of their own borders, territory or anything that happens in Russia.”

Postimees (EE) /

Estonia could come under suspicion

Since the attack took place close to the Estonian border, the Russians could wrongly suspect Estonia of being involved, so the country must be prepared, Postimees stresses:

“Obviously, Ukraine's defensive success is cause for celebration. But it also carries the risk of miscalculations. If an airport is attacked at night, the soldiers won't wake up knowing: 'Oh, it's the Ukrainians again!' Explosions in the dark create a state of confusion and a sense of urgency to retaliate against a real or imaginary enemy. This could translate into the wrong target being selected and direct combat. We must be prepared for potential misjudgements beyond our borders.”