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Ukrainian drone strikes have hit air bases in Russia. This is what it means.

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A blast hit an air base in Russia on Tuesday, the latest in a series of apparent Ukrainian drone strikes that demonstrate their ability to attack the heart of Russian territory and suggest a newfound courage in Kiev’s fight against Moscow’s war .

An airport near Kursk in southwest Russia, near the Ukrainian border, was on fire Tuesday morning. Regional governor Roman Starovoit said the incident was the result of a drone strike.

Photos and videos verified by NBC News showed a major fire at the airport caused by a presumably damaged oil tanker, with smoke trailing for miles in the air.

Similar explosions were seen Monday at Engels Air Base outside the city of Saratov and in Ryazan, just 200 kilometers southwest of Moscow and hundreds of kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

The English base houses Russia’s strategic bombing fleet of tu-160 and tu-95 aircraft, which have been used for long-range bombing of Ukraine and can be modified to carry nuclear weapons.

Ukraine has not directly claimed responsibility, but officials have jokingly suggested that the military may be behind the incidents. Russia’s defense ministry blamed Kiev’s armed forces for the two blasts Monday, which killed three “maintenance personnel” and damaged two aircraft.

Analysts were cautious about the military impact of the apparent strikes on strategic locations far from the front lines, but said they had further undermined Russian confidence in the country’s air defenses while providing a timely morale boost to Ukrainian citizens preparing on a long winter under bombardment.

“The signaling is important for the Ukrainians: they need to know that they are striking back given the amount of pain and devastation and general discomfort being meted out in Ukraine,” Matthew Ford, an associate professor at Sweden’s Defense University in Stockholm, told NBC News.

“From a moral point of view, it is important that some Russian strategic assets are targeted.”

Russia has the firepower to continue bombing Ukraine, he added. “It might be tricky, but they can move planes and infrastructure, they can put more security around air bases.”

The attacks were carried out, the Kremlin said, by “Soviet-made UAVs,” or unmanned aerial vehicles. This suggests that Ukraine is not using the billions of dollars in deadly aid it has received from the United States and other Western allies in attacks on Russian soil, which Washington feared could trigger an escalation.

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