Six Ukrainian soldiers were reported killed in a crash of two helicopters in the east of the country amid reports that Kyiv has stepped up attacks to unprecedented levels inside Russia and in the south of Ukraine.
Ukrainska Pravda reported on August 30 that the incident involved two Mi-8 helicopters near the frontline town of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region on August 29.
A military spokesman confirmed the deaths to public broadcaster Suspilne but provided no details.
Some media reports said the incident occurred near Bakhmut, the Ukrainian town captured by Russian forces and the scene of continued heavy fighting.
The report comes as Ukraine appeared to increase drone attacks inside Russia, along with its drive in the south in the direction of the occupied Crimean Peninsula.
Moscow officials on August 30 reported what they said was one of the largest Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian soil since the start of the war, with the reported strikes prompting Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova to say that the attacks “will not go unpunished.”
The most devastating strike was reported in the western region of Pskov, some 660 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, where suspected Ukrainian drones struck a military airfield that houses military and civilian aircraft, destroying four giant Ilyushin-76 military transport planes, regional officials and the Russian state news agency TASS reported.
Regional Governor Mikhail Vedernikov posted on Telegram a short video in which a blast can be heard and a major fire can be seen over the Khresty airfield, leading to a suspension of airport operations.
Residents of the city reported explosions and gunfire overnight on August 30.
Vedernikov later said that an inspection of civilian infrastructure of the airport had been completed and that the facility would resume normal operations on August 31.
The Main Intelligence Directorate (HUR) of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on August 30 confirmed that four transport planes have been destroyed in Pskov, without directly claiming Ukraine’s responsibility for the attack.
“We confirm the destruction of four units of enemy Il-76 transport aircraft. This means that the damage inflicted does not allow the aircraft to be repaired and returned to action. They are used to transport occupying forces and their equipment. There is also information about damage to several more units,” HUR spokesman Andriy Yusov told Ukrainian media.
Explosions were also reported in the Russian regions of Bryansk, Kaluga, Orlov, Ryazan, and Moscow.
Ukrainian drones attempted an attack on a TV tower in the Bryansk region, regional Governor Aleksandr Bogomaz said, adding that there were no victims.
Two Moscow airports — Domodedovo and Vnukovo — were briefly closed.
In Russia-annexed Crimea, a drone attack was carried out on Sevastopol Moscow-installed regional Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said on Telegram, without giving other details.
The Russian military also said that one of its planes destroyed four Ukrainian attack vessels carrying some 50 troops in an operation on the Black Sea.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian military officials would probe how the drone attacks were carried out “in order to take appropriate measures to prevent these situations in the future.”
The reports could not be independently verified, and Ukraine’s Command of the Special Operations Forces mocked the claim in a Facebook post, calling it fake and warning that “to trust the Russians is to disrespect oneself.”
Meanwhile, EU policy chief Josep Borrell urged member nations to order more ammunition for Kyiv to help the bloc reach a March goal of providing 1 million artillery shells within 12 months at a cost of about $2.18 billion.
“Now it is [left] to the member states to pass concrete orders inside these framework agreements with the industry,” Borrell told reporters after an informal EU defense ministers meeting in the Spanish city of Toledo.
Even with the stepped-up Ukrainian attacks, the capital, Kyiv, also took new deadly hits.
A Russian attack killed at least two people and wounded three others, said Serhiy Popko, the head of the capital’s military administration, adding that it was the most powerful on the city since spring.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the two people that were killed were security guards at an enterprise in the city’s Shevchenkivskiy district.
The attack damaged several houses as well in the capital and also hit a cemetery, where it ignited a fire, authorities said.
In the northeastern region of Sumy bordering Russia, an 82-year-old woman was killed when a Russian shell struck her house in the village of Shalyhyne, the regional prosecutor’s office reported on August 30.
In the Zhytomyr region, wreckage from fallen drones caused damage to railway infrastructure, regional Governor Vitaliy Bunechko said.
Ukrainian Commander in Chief Valeriy Zaluzhniy said that a total of 28 cruise missiles and 16 drones were launched by Russian forces in the latest attack on Ukraine. All cruise missiles and 15 Iranian-made drones were shot down by the Ukrainian air defense, Zaluzhniy wrote on Facebook.
On the battlefield, Ukrainian forces continued their offensive operation on the axis of the strategic southern city of Melitopol, the General Staff of Ukraine’s military said on August 30. It said that a total of 35 combat clashes occurred along the front line over the past 24 hours.