Ukraine has not publicly claimed responsibility for any of the explosions, including those that destroyed nine Russian planes at another air base in Crimea last week. Russia seized the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and used it to launch attacks against Ukraine in the war that began nearly six months ago.
If Ukrainian forces were behind the explosions, it would represent a significant escalation of the war. Such attacks could also indicate that Ukrainian agents are able to penetrate deep into Russian-occupied territory.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alluded to Ukrainian attacks behind enemy lines when he included individuals ‘who oppose the occupiers from behind’ in a list of people he thanked for supporting the effort country’s war.
In a video address Tuesday night, he also warned people not to approach Russian military installations and ammunition and equipment storage sites.
In another reported act of sabotage, the Russian news service Tass quoted the FSB security agency as saying that Ukrainian agents had blown up six high-voltage transmission towers earlier this month in the Russian region of Kursk, near from Ukraine.
The Kremlin has demanded that Kyiv recognize Crimea as part of Russia as a condition to end the fighting, while Ukraine has pledged to drive Moscow’s forces out of the Black Sea peninsula.
Videos posted on social media showed thick columns of smoke rising above raging flames in Mayskoye, and a series of explosions could be heard. The Russian Defense Ministry said a power station, power lines, railway tracks and apartment buildings were damaged.
“We went out to have a look and saw clouds of smoke coming from the barn where the military warehouses are,” said Maksim Moldovskiy, a resident. “We stayed there until about 7-8 in the morning. Everything was exploding – lightning, fragments, debris falling on us. Then the paramedics arrived and said they were evacuating everyone.
Crimean regional leader Sergei Aksyonov said two people were injured and more than 3,000 were evacuated from two villages.
“The bangs are pretty loud. Ammunition is strewn all over the ground,” he said, adding that several houses had burned down.
In what may have been retaliation for attacks in Crimea, Russian warplanes fired missiles at a military airfield in Zhytomyr, 87 miles west of Kyiv, damaging a runway and vehicles, officials said Ukrainians.
Crimea is a popular summer destination for Russian tourists, and last week’s explosions at Crimea’s Saki airbase sent bathers on beaches fleeing as flames and columns of smoke rose in the air. horizon.
Ukrainian officials warned on Tuesday that Crimea would not be spared the ravages of war.
Rather than a travel destination, “Russian-occupied Crimea is about warehouse explosions and high risk of death for invaders and thieves,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter.
Russia attributed last week’s explosions to an accidental detonation of munitions, but satellite photos and other evidence – including scattered explosion sites – pointed to a Ukrainian attack, possibly with anti-missile missiles. ships, military analysts said.
The UK Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update that Russian Black Sea Fleet vessels are in an “extremely defensive posture” in the waters off Crimea, with the vessels barely venturing out of sight of the coast. The Russian flagship Moskva sank in the Black Sea in April and last month Ukrainian forces retook the strategic Snake Island.
“The limited effectiveness of the Russian fleet undermines Russia’s overall invasion strategy,” the British said. “That means Ukraine can divert resources to put pressure on Russian ground forces elsewhere.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says that in addition to supplying weapons to Ukraine, Western allies have provided detailed intelligence and instructors to help Ukraine use weapons that can strike deep in the occupied territories.
“Western intelligence agencies not only provided target coordinates to launch strikes, but Western specialists also oversaw the input of that data into weapons systems,” Shoigu said.