Ukraine Situation Report: Russia Strikes Airbase In Drone-Directed Missile Attack

Video emerged on social media showing a missile attack on the Ukraine’s Mirgorod Air Base in Poltava Oblast on Monday. The base, home to Ukraine’s 831st Tactical Aviation Brigade, is located in central Ukraine, about 100 miles southwest of the border. The attack and loss of aircraft has been confirmed by the Ukrainian Air Force.

The video, posted by the Russian Aerospace Forces-connected Fighterbomber Telegram channel opens with a surveillance drone view of the airfield with Su-27 Flanker fighter jets parked on the apron.

It later cuts to scattered puffs of smoke from a cluster munitions strike that Russian milbloggers say was carried out by Iskander short-range ballistic missiles. Iskander-E variants can contain those, according to the U.S. Army. We have previously reported on their use in Ukraine.

Video of the attack on the Mirrored AirBase shows it was hit by cluster munitions. Twitter screencap

The video then shows a burst of flame on the apron and ends with two plumes of smoke rising from that location.

An image from NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) confirmed that there was a fire at the location captured in the video.


The attack was confirmed by Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Col. Yuri Ignat as well as Russian and Ukrainian Telegram channels. However, the battle damage assessment remained in dispute.

“It’s a war, and unfortunately not without loss of technology,” Ignat said on Facebook. “The blow was there. There are some losses, but not at all as the enemy attributes, after all, they always do so since the beginning of the invasion. The Air Force is doing everything it can to counter the enemy, mislead the enemy, including through mockups and other means.”

The Russian Rybar Telegram channel claims that two aircraft were destroyed and four damaged by the cluster munitions attack. The War Zone cannot independently verify that claim.

“As a result, in one raid, the Russian Armed Forces disabled six combat aircraft of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which is the best result since the beginning of the Northern Military District,” Rybar bragged. “Most likely, the Ukrainian formations also suffered losses in flight and engineering personnel – this is indirectly indicated by reports of enemy resources.”

The Iskander, as we have previously noted, is “among Russia’s most valuable precision-guided standoff weapons. They are now being used for fast-reaction strikes for exactly these kinds of time-sensitive targets. It’s really the only major precision strike munition Russia has capable of reliably hitting these kinds of high-value targets on very short notice as the Russian Air Forces have not achieved air superiority.” 

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Russian Telegram claims Mirgorod was hit by an Iskader-M short-range ballistic missile. Russian MoD Russian MOD

Ukrainian Telegram channels also confirmed the attack and expressed outrage that the drones were able to loiter so long over Mirgorod.

“There was information about the presence of a Russian [drone] in the air, and in advance,” Serhii Sternenko, a major figure in Ukraine’s drone development and production efforts, complained on his Telegram channel. “However, no appropriate measures were taken. Starting with negligence, continuing with the lack of shelters for aviation, ending with a lack of personnel due to sending to the infantry.”

“There have already been at least two similar strikes on this airfield with reconnaissance broadcasts in the last two weeks,” he added. There have also been claims that the base was hit in May, as we noted at the time.

The Ukrainian Sofa Assault Brigade Telegram channel also shared its dismay about a drone over the base.

“For almost three hours, an Orlan-10 hovered over the city at an altitude of about 5 km (about 3 miles), which aimed the missiles,” Sofa Assault Brigade chided.

Though Sofa Assault Brigade challenged Russian claims on the number of aircraft damaged, “this does not negate the fact that the drone calmly flew over Mirgorod for 3 hours, aimed the Iskander [missiles] and recorded the consequences.”

Mirgorod Air Base is about 100 miles from the border with Russia. Google Earth image

This is a problem for both sides. Ukraine and Russia alike lack enough air defense systems to protect all major potential target areas. In addition, the systems that do exist have been heavily targeted. Moreover, defeating small drones can require specialized short-range air defense systems (SHORADS). That Russia can operate a drone and communicate the location of targets in real time so far from territory it controls adds to Ukraine’s woes. The drones are likely using an airborne relay or even potentially patching into local cellular networks in order to provide real-time connectivity over such long distances.

The Fighterbomber video also captured silhouettes painted on the apron. This is something both sides have done in an apparent attempt to fool adversaries, but given current technology it is a tactic of extremely limited value. It is clear even by the drone screenshot below that these are not three-dimensional, something Sofa Assault Brigade also lashed out at.

“You can also see painted silhouettes of airplanes in the parking lots, but that didn’t help,” it scoffed.

Mirgorod Airbase painted jet silhouettes on the apron. Twitter screencap

Ryber suggested the strike on Mirgorod was “evidence of a qualitative increase in the capabilities of the Russian Armed Forces to detect and quickly destroy targets in the deep rear of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” It is also possible that Russia might have hit non-operational or even decoy aircraft, something the Ukrainian Air Force spokesman hinted at earlier in this story. Ukraine regularly moves its active fighter aircraft around to various bases and locations on those bases in order to complicate Russia’s ability to target them.

Regardless of what was hit, given that Ukraine will soon be receiving dozens of donated F-16s, the issue of sheltering jets and preventing drones from loitering overhead is only going to become more critical. These aircraft will be the absolute top targets for Russian airstrikes.

Before diving into more developments from the conflict in Ukraine, The War Zone readers can review our previous coverage here.

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The western Donetsk Oblast coal mining town of Vuhledar continues to be a bulwark against Russian attempts to punch through and encircle Ukrainian troops in the region. Sitting on high ground along the key T0532 highway, the ruined city is once again a graveyard for Russian troops and vehicles.

More than a year after Russian Col.-Gen. Rustam Muradov was sacked for ordering deadly assaults on this city that resulted in tremendous losses of men and equipment, video is emerging of the charred remains of another unsuccessful effort to take Vuhledar.

Produced by Ukraine’s 72nd Separate Mechanized Brigade, the video shows tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled mortars and other armored vehicles destroyed in yet another attempt to take the city. This latest attack also involved Russian troops on motorcycles, many of which were destroyed. 

“Through the efforts of the ‘Black Cossacks’ of the 72nd Separate Mechanized Brigade, the ‘Road of Fury’ near Vuhledar for Russian troops turned into a real killing field,” Ukrainian journalist Yurii Butusov, who posted the video, wrote on Telegram Monday. “Among the cemetery of enemy armored vehicles, a considerable number of motorcycles destroyed by our soldiers and burned out attract attention. The enemy command sent this ‘speedway section’ into battle along with heavy equipment, that is, they deliberately threw manpower under the Ukrainian death harvester without any chance of survival.”

A well-known Russian milblogger recently acknowledged the difficulty faced by Moscow’s forces attacking Vuhledar and promised an assault to the rear.

“We are pressing, but a breakthrough of the front is not yet possible,” Alexander Sladkov wrote on Telegram Friday. “Actually, why? A blow to the Ukrainians in the back, or rather from the rear, is brewing there. For this we need to advance the front from Kurakhov and Karlovka, and we are doing a lot for this. And then – the encirclement, or the flight of the Ukrainian Armed Forces group in Vuhledar.”

To date Vuhledar remains in Ukrainian hands. There is little doubt though that Russia will keep trying to take the city as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desire to grind Kyiv’s forces down in a protracted battle of attrition.

Elsewhere on the battlefield, there was little change of positions, according to the latest assessment from the Institute for the Study of War

  • In Kharkiv Oblast, Russian forces recently advanced within central Vovchansk north of Kharkiv City near Lypsti. 
  • In Luhansk Oblast Russian forces recently advanced southeast of Kupyansk, and Ukrainian forces recently advanced near Kreminna amid continued Russian ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line. 
  • In Donetsk Oblast Russian forces reportedly advanced in the Toretsk and Siversk directions. Russian forces continued offensive operations near Chasiv Yar on June 30, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. They also recently advanced southwest of Avdiivka and continued operations southwest of Donetsk CIty with no confirmed changes to the frontlines.
  • Positional engagements continued in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area south of Velyka Novosilka near Urozhaine, Staromayorske, and Makarivka and in western Zaporizhia Oblast but there were no changes to the frontline. Russian forces continued ground assaults near Robotyne, north of Robotyne near Novodanylivka, east of Robotyne near Verbove, and northeast of Robotyne near Mala Tokmachka and Charivne.
  • In Kherson Oblast, fighting continued on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast, including near Krynky.

The intensity of fighting in Vovchansk is captured in this video of Russian troops running for cover under fire. As they hustle toward the relative shelter of a bombed-out building, you can hear the ceaseless sound of small arms and the occasional explosion.

You can get a sense of the destruction in Robotyne after a year of back-and-forth battles in this video.

Russia has taken great losses in these attacks, losing an average of more than 1,000 troops a day killed or injured in May, according to The New York Times, citing U.S., British and Western intelligence agencies.

“But despite its losses, Russia is recruiting 25,000 to 30,000 new soldiers a month — roughly as many as are exiting the battlefield, U.S. officials said,” The Times reported. “That has allowed its army to keep sending wave after wave of troops at Ukrainian defenses, hoping to overwhelm them and break through the trench lines.”

“It is a style of warfare that Russian soldiers have likened to being put into a meat grinder, with commanding officers seemingly oblivious to the fact that they are sending infantry soldiers to die,” the paper added.

During these meat assaults, Russia is using motorcycles with sidecars to carry troops and ferry out the wounded. Since the early days of this all-out war, both sides have used small, fast, highly maneuverable motorcycles to carry out a variety of missions.

The glide-bombs used by Russia to attack Ukrainian cities have also been falling on its own territory, The Washington Post reported Monday, citing an internal Russian document.

“At least 38 of the bombs, which have been credited with helping drive Russia’s recent territorial advances, crashed into the Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine between April 2023 and April 2024,” according to the publication, adding that most did not detonate.

Most of the bombs were discovered by civilians, the Post reported. For the most part, the Russian Defense Ministry “didn’t know when the bombs had been launched, indicating that some of them could have been there for days.”

At least four of the bombs fell on Belgorod City, a regional hub with a population of about 400,000 people, the publication wrote. The most glide bombs, 11, fell in the Graivoron border region where some could not be recovered because of the “difficult operational situation.”


The Post also noted that Astra, an independent Russian media outlet, “verified that many of the incidents in the document matched those it had collected from local governments and reports in local news media. People mentioned as witnesses have been confirmed as residents.”

Meanwhile, the Russian Baza news outlet reported on Telegram that five bombs were discovered in Belgorord over the past two days, including the three-ton FAB-3000.

“The reasons for the appearance of aircraft ammunition are being clarified,” Baza wrote. “The discovered FABs are being prepared to be destroyed. According to sources, there were no casualties. There was no need to evacuate residents.”

These incidents, however, are not new. Last year, we reported that a “Russian Su-34 Fullback strike fighter accidentally dropped a bomb or other type of offensive weapon” on Belgorod.

A civilian was killed and 10 others were injured in Kharkiv on Sunday when Russian forces struck a post office, the head of that region’s administration said on Telegram.

“Today in Kharkiv there is another hit by a Russian-guided air bomb,” Oleh Syniehubov wrote. “The postal terminal was hit, a normal civilian object. We are now aware of 10 wounded. Everyone is given the necessary help. One person, unfortunately, died. was killed.”

Russia has been shelling that northeastern corridor relentlessly in recent months, trying to create what the Kremlin is calling a “buffer zone” between Kharkiv and the oft-targeted Russian city of Belgorod, the Kyiv Post reported.

Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, a tall building in the Obolonskyi district was destroyed by falling missile debris, causing a fire to break out, the publication reported. Six were injured in the attack, including a child.

During the protracted debate over whether the U.S. should send Ukraine M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, one of the biggest concerns raised was whether they could be maintained properly. The official Ukrainian United24 media outlet recently published a video showing how mechanics were able to swap an old engine for a new one. The five-minute video also highlighted how Ukrainian tank crews, on their own initiative, added M-19 Abrams Reactive Armor Tiles (ARAT) to Abrams’ turrets. That’s “because the standard armor of the turret proved to be not enough for the modern battlefield,” one Ukrainian tanker said.

Ukraine has lost at least a third of the 31 Abrams delivered by the U.S., according to the Oryx open-source tracking group. Of those, at least three were destroyed, one damaged and six damaged and abandoned, the most recent on June 11. Those figures could be higher because Oryx only tracks losses for which it has visual confirmation.

Russian troops were recently seen riding aboard a cope cage-covered T-72B3M tank. While cope cages might offer extremely limited protection against drones, they offer nothing in the way of solace from the bumpy, noisey ride.

A so-called cope cage didn’t help the crew of this Russian Bm-21 Grad multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) from a Ukrainian First-Person View (FPV) drone chasing it. The FPV in this video approached the Grad. The video then cut to another drone view of the resulting catastrophic explosion.

Russian All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) seen in the following video compilation were easy prey for the FPV drones.

This Russian soldier didn’t fare much better when Ukrainian forces dropped an FPV on his lap.

After their boat was damaged in the Dnipro River, these Russian soldiers tried to swim to safety, but were targeted by Ukrainian drone-dropped munitions. It looks like one soldier was at least badly injured but it is unclear what happened to the others.

A pair of Russian soldiers tried unsuccessfully to hide from a Ukrainian FPV drone in the rubble of a destroyed building. They were unable to avoid being hit. Warning, the following video that shows the attack is extremely graphic.

It takes training to learn how to fly FPV drones like the ones seen in umpteen social media posts. Here, Russian troops are seen learning how to fly them.

With so many wounded, Russia is using what it can for battlefield casualty evacuation. The ride in this wagon being pulled along a bumpy road does not look comfortable.

Special Operations Forces (SOF) from the Ukrainian Special Services (SBU) have released video claiming to show drone strikes on several Russian air defense systems. The targets included four Tor-M2 anti-aircraft systems, three Pantsir-S1 systems and one Buk, SBU claimed.

Images of an apparent Ukrainian jet drone found somewhere in Russia were posted by the Ukrainian Informant Telegram channel. The drone reportedly had a 20 kilogram (about 44 pound) warhead.

With drones an ever-present menace, Russia has created what is dubbed the “ZVeraBoy buggy,” according to the official Russian TASS news agency. It is an attempt to create a mobile very low-end anti-aircraft system to protect against fast, highly maneuverable drones.

The buggy is equipped with two machine guns mounted on the front, six shotguns on a rack in the rear and six launch tubes around the vehicle’s perimeter that shoot out wooden spikes.

A Russian Iskander missile reportedly struck a Ukrainian S-300 air defense system in Odesa region. According to the Russian The_Wrong_Side Telegram channel, an S-300’s 30N6 illumination and guidance radar and combat control cabin were destroyed.

If you ever wanted to see how Russia builds out its dugouts, check out the video below. As you can see, this one contains a lot of comforts of home, including a kitchen, cabinets, seating and a large-screen television.

Not all of Russia’s underground facilities are as nicely appointed.

Russia seems to be protecting these dugouts with wooden pyramids topped with a cross. The significance, beyond religious, if any, is not entirely clear.

During this war both sides fly low to avoid air defenses, but this helicopter ventured so low that it literally flew by an oncoming truck, nearly cockpit to cab.

That’s it for now.

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Howard Altman

Senior Staff Writer

Howard is a Senior Staff Writer for The War Zone, and a former Senior Managing Editor for Military Times. Prior to this, he covered military affairs for the Tampa Bay Times as a Senior Writer. Howard’s work has appeared in various publications including Yahoo News, RealClearDefense, and Air Force Times.