Is Ukraine’s new drone a game-changer in the war?

A mysterious weapon struck a target deep in Russia’s heartland.

On Monday morning, a deafening roar that sounded like a landing jet plane woke up a town spreadeagled in the flat steppes of the Volga River region.

A mysterious weapon struck a target deep in Russia’s heartland.

On Monday morning, a deafening roar that sounded like a landing jet plane woke up a town spreadeagled in the flat steppes of the Volga River region.

The planes are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and Moscow has repeatedly used them to rain non-nuclear missiles on Ukraine.

Russia accused Ukraine.

Kyiv has not claimed responsibility, but if it is confirmed to be behind them, as is widely believed, they would mark the deepest assaults in Russia since its war began in February.

Since October 10, seven waves of attacks have killed civilians and destroyed or damaged houses, power stations and other infrastructure needed to keep millions of Ukrainians safe from winter.

Located some 650km (404 miles) from the easternmost part of the Kharkiv region controlled by Kyiv, the Engels airfield was seen as a safe hideout Ukraine could not possibly reach.

“This is a historic moment, unexpected not only for our foes, whose plans have been thwarted but also for allies” in the West, Lieutenant General Ihor Romanenko, Ukraine’s former deputy chief of general staff, told Al Jazeera.

The new weapon can reach most of western Russia, including Moscow, the lower Volga River region, as well as annexed Crimea, where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is stationed.

“The weapon is powerful and precise enough to deliver serious damage, including striking anything related to oil, chemicals and energy, as well as large bridges – for example, across the Volga,” Nikolay Mitrokhin, a historian with Germany’s Bremen University, told Al Jazeera.

Four Russian cities with a population of more than a million stand on the Volga, Europe’s longest river.

For centuries, Russians saw it as their most important and symbolic water artery – and often referred to it as “matushka,” or “dear mother”.

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