At least one person was killed after a series of explosions rocked a vital Russian air base on Tuesday in Kremlin-occupied Crimea. The blasts also sowed doubt among local authorities regarding the nature of the incident and whether or not Ukraine’s military may threaten targets on the peninsula.
While Russian and occupation authorities hurried to discover the source of the explosives, which raised the terrorist danger level in the region, Ukrainian officials publicly refused to admit the role of Ukraine’s armed forces in the incident. However, a senior Ukrainian military officer with knowledge of the incident said that Ukrainian troops were responsible for the assault that was carried out on the Saki air base, which is located on the western coast of Crimea.
According to the source, who requested anonymity in order to discuss sensitive military affairs, the air base was one from where jets routinely took off to strike Ukrainian soldiers. These assaults were carried out on the condition that the official would not reveal his identity. The official refused to reveal the sort of weapon that was responsible for the explosions and instead said that “a gadget completely of Ukrainian manufacture was deployed.”
A Ukrainian attack on Russian forces on the Crimean Peninsula would represent a significant expansion of Ukraine’s offensive efforts, which had mostly been limited to pushing Russian troops from territories occupied after February 24, the day the invasion began. This would be a significant expansion of Ukraine’s offensive efforts. However, for the past few weeks, Ukraine has been repositioning its troops and launching attacks further behind the front lines than in the past. With these actions, the country is sending signals that it is preparing a major counteroffensive in the Kherson region and making use of longer-range weapons that have been supplied by the West.
Crimea has mostly been spared the bloodshed since it is protected by the Russian Navy and has been highly reinforced after eight years of being under Russian authority. Six people were injured in the explosion that occurred one month ago at the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the port city of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula. The explosion did not cause significant damage to the building. Russia placed responsibility for the strike on Ukrainian soldiers, but Ukrainian authorities vehemently refuted Russia’s accusations.
A attack on Crimea would also be embarrassing for the President of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, who often treats Crimea, which he stole from Ukraine and unlawfully seized in 2014, as if it were holy ground. The only weapons that Ukraine has that are capable of reaching the peninsula are aeroplanes, which run the danger of being destroyed by Russia’s robust air defences in the area the moment they are launched. The air base, which is located close to the city of Novofederivka, is located far over 100 miles away from the closest military outpost held by the Ukrainian government.
The senior Ukrainian official stated that partisan resistance forces loyal to the government in Kyiv were involved in the attack; however, he would not disclose whether or not those forces carried out the attack themselves or assisted regular Ukrainian military units in targeting the base. This is something that has occasionally occurred in other occupied territories of Ukraine. There was a lack of clarity over the total number of explosions that took place; nevertheless, witnesses and Russian authorities mentioned many explosions, which videos that were shared on social media seemed to support.
As was the case with previous explosions and fires that occurred in occupied territory or inside Russian borders, Ukrainian authorities did not publicly admit responsibility for the incident, but they did imply that they were involved.
The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine issued a statement in which it said that it was unable to “identify the cause of the explosion,” and it urged that workers at the base adhere to the norms on no smoking. Following this, it tweeted, accompanied by a shot of black smoke billowing over the peninsula, “the presence of occupying soldiers on the territory of Ukrainian Crimea is not consistent with the busy tourist season.”