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Moscow again closes major airport, as Ukraine reports massive air strikes

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a Kremlin meeting, March 16, 2022. (Screenshot)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

For the second time in the last week, Moscow’s Vnukovo airport was temporarily closed on August 6 after Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin reported that a drone strike on the Russian capital had been parried.

The closure came after Ukraine’s military reported a massive countrywide missile-and-drone attack overnight.

“For reasons beyond the airport’s control, temporary restrictions on arrivals and departures have been introduced,” the airport’s press service said, according to Russia’s state-controlled TASS news agency.

The airport was briefly closed on July 30 following a Ukrainian drone strike that damaged two prominent Moscow office buildings.

Ukraine’s air defense earlier reported a “massive missile attack” during the night of August 5-6, saying at least 70 missiles and suicide drones targeted sites around the country.

Kyiv said its air defenses had neutralized 12 of 14 Kalibr sea-launched cruise missiles before they could reach their targets. In addition, Russia fired at least three Kinzhal air-launched missiles from Tu-95 strategic bombers flying in the Caspian region.

All 27 Shahed drones were destroyed, Ukraine’s Air Force reported.

Air Force spokesman Yuriy Inhat told Ukrainian state television that the Khmelnytskiy region was a particular focus of Russian attention.

“The Starokostyantyniv airfield haunts the enemy now,” Inhat said.

The Khmelnytskiy region — in western Ukraine and far from the front lines — has been targeted by Russian missile attacks for the past few days.

Meanwhile, the governor of Russia’s Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine, reported on Telegram that two drones had been shot down without causing casualties or damage.

In the Russian-occupied region of Crimea, Kyiv said on August 6 that it hit two bridges connecting the Black Sea Peninsula to mainland Ukraine. Russia claimed Ukraine used long-range Storm Shadow missiles supplied by the United Kingdom to hit the bridges.

Ukraine last month hit the bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland for the second time in two months. Russia has militarized the peninsula since it annexed the region in 2014.

Ukraine’s ability to hit the bridges could potentially distrupt Russia’s supply route to its forces in Ukraine’s south, where fighting is intensive.

Over the past month, Kyiv has been focusing on degrading Russia’s fighting capacity with the use of long-range weapons and artillary after the attempt to storm Russian positions at the outset of its June counteroffensive proved difficult due to extensive mining of the territory.

A member of Germany’s ruling party for the first time called on Berlin to hand over long-range missiles to Ukraine to help its counteroffensive succeed.

In its daily assessment on August 6, Britain’s Defense Ministry estimated that Russia may have lost about half of the airborne forces it has deployed in Ukraine since Moscow’s massive invasion in February 2022. The ministry estimated that about 15,000 paratroopers had been killed or wounded over the last 17 months.

On August 5, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that a “guided air bomb” had struck a blood-transfusion center in the Kharkiv region, causing an unknown number of deaths and injuries.

The same day, an oil tanker became the second Russian vessel to be damaged in the last 72 hours in what was described as a sea-based drone attack in the Kerch Strait, close to the bridge that links the Russia-occupied Ukrainian region of Crimea with Russia.

The Ukrainian state agency for navigation and hydrographic services warned on August 5 that six Russian Black Sea ports — Anapa, Novorossiisk, Gelendzhik, Tuapse, Sochi, and Taman — were inside the “war-risk area.”