CNN  — 

Ukrainian forces appear to have stepped up their efforts to weaken Russian air superiority in the war by attacking bases that house supersonic warplanes deep inside Russian territory.

Kyiv said it had carried out a drone strike on the Shaykovka Russian military air facility some 200 kilometers (130 miles) northeast of the Ukrainian border on Monday. Over the weekend, Russia’s defense ministry said another Ukrainian drone hit the Soltsy military airfield in the Novgorod region, also hundreds of kilometers north of Ukraine.

Moscow’s dominance in the skies has been a major obstacle for Ukraine’s counteroffensive. Ukrainian forces have been working their way through dense minefields and multiple layers of defenses along the frontlines in recent weeks, while regularly coming under attack from above.

That’s why Kyiv has made it a priority to get F-16 fighter jets from its allies. But while the Netherlands and Denmark both agreed this week to provide the aircraft, it will take many months before Ukrainian pilots are trained up to use them. In the meantime, Ukraine seems to be trying to make a dent in Russia’s air power by targeting its air bases.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, a pilot, left, and Dutch caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte pose in front of a F-16 fighter jet in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. The leaders met at a military air base in the southern Dutch city, a day after Zelenskyy visited Sweden on his first foreign trip since attending a NATO summit in Lithuania last month. On Friday, the Netherlands and Denmark said that the United States had given its approval for the countries to deliver F-16s to Ukraine.
F-16 jets can change course of Ukraine war
04:42 - Source: CNN

The Shaykovka military air base operates Tupolev Tu-22M3 supersonic long-range bombers that have been used by Russia to strike targets in Ukraine since the start of its full-scale invasion last year. Just last week, the Ukrainian air force reported that aircraft flying from Shaykovka had launched four Kh-22 cruise missiles towards Ukraine.

Andriy Yusov, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence, said that a drone attack on the Shaykovka base in Russia’s Kaluga region on Monday left “at least one aircraft damaged.”