Vladimir Putin suffered his worst night of bombardment of the war as Ukraine hit back at Russia with a series of drone strikes deep into enemy territory.
Russian military aircraft were damaged and civilian aviation was disrupted in the drone attacks, Russian officials said, citing Pskov, Bryansk, Kaluga, Orlov, Ryazan and Moscow regions as targeted, as well as Russian-occupied Crimea.
Most of the drones were reportedly shot out of the skies by Russian air defences.
But the most significant attack saw drones strike Pskov airport in western Russia just 20 miles from the border of Estonia – resulting in the destruction of two heavy military Il-76 transport planes and damage to two more, reports said.
Footage shared on social media showed huge explosions lighting up the night’s sky over the airport that sits 40 miles from the neighbouring Baltic, NATO and European Union states of Estonia and Latvia.
The strikes came as Ukraine also suffered a massive overnight attack, described as the ‘most powerful’ barrage of missiles since the spring.
Authorities said two people were killed, as Russia claimed it destroyed four Ukrainian boats in the Black Sea carrying up to 50 soldiers.
Ukraine, which has yet to achieve a major success in its summer ground counteroffensive, has struck deep into Russia in recent months, including an attack on the Kremlin in May and numerous drone attacks on civilian targets in Moscow.
Ukraine typically does not comment on who is behind attacks on Russian territory, although officials have publicly expressed satisfaction over them.
Confirming the attack on the Princess Olga Pskov Airport, a Russian emergencies ministry source said: ‘As a result of a drone attack, four Il-76 planes were damaged. A fire broke out. Two aircraft are engulfed in flames.’
The planes are used to transport military equipment and troops to the war zone.
Officials announced the closure of the airport – a military airbase that doubles as a civilian airport – throughout today as runway damage was assessed.
The strike in northwest Russia was almost 500 miles from the nearest Ukrainian territory, demonstrating a new reach by Kyiv in its UAV attacks.