Unconfirmed video appears to show an explosion at the base of the mast, which then slowly buckles and collapses onto its side. Ukraine has launched attacks inside Russia before which Russia had blamed on Western loitering munitions, otherwise known as suicide drones.
Jimmy (@JimmySecUK), a Kyiv-based commentator and journalist, said on Twitter the attack was carried out by a “suicide drone”.
He said: “A Ukrainian suicide drone targeted and destroyed a Russian military communications mast in Belgorod Oblast, Russia.”
Masts such as these can be used to relay orders and intelligence to commanders near or on the frontline. The attack is likely an attempt to disrupt Russian communications in order to sow confusion at the front.
Other analysts, however, disputed the assessment the attack was carried out by a drone.
Former US Navy Seal and demolitions expert Chuck Pfarrer said the explosion could have been a controlled demolition carried out by Russia.
He said: “For whatever reasons, Russian sources have decided to credit a cross-border attack to Ukrainian forces.
“As a demolition expert, my assessment is that this tower was toppled by controlled demotion, and not by a loitering munition. The video is likely a Russian provocation.”
Russia is known to have used so-called false flag attacks in the past to justify military action or drum up domestic support.
Before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Western intelligence warned that these self inflicted attacks would become increasingly likely to justify an invasion.
However, it is unclear what purpose Russia destroying its own communications mast would serve – there were likely no civilian causalities during the attack and Ukraine has already launched higher profile cross border raids including a helicopter strike on an oil depot in Belgorod.
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The news of the strike comes as Ukraine has been using Western weaponry to strike far behind Russia’s frontlines.
Today, August 16, Russia blamed sabotage for blasts which occurred on the occupied peninsula of Crimea – for the second time this month. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for either attack but comments from officials seem to hint that the explosions were not accidental.
Additionally, Russia’s security service, the FSB, said that Ukrainian saboteurs had blown up six electricity pylons inside Russia this month.
The attacks raise the question of Ukrainian forces, or even sympathetic Russian’s, operating in occupied areas or even inside of Russia itself.