Day 168 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Explosions hit Russian Military Airbase in Annexed Crimea
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Explosions hit Russian military airbase in annexed Crimea
One person has been killed and several others wounded in an explosion at a military airbase in the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula.
The explosions were caused by the detonation of several aviation ammunition stores and Russia's Ministry of Defence clarified that there has been no attack. And no aviation equipment had been damaged, Al Jazeera reported.
Several unverified videos on social media showed the sunbathers fleeing a nearby beach as huge clouds of smoke from the explosions rose over the horizon.
Crimea's health department said that one civilian had been killed and another eight injured.
The head of Crimea's administration Sergey Aksyonov said that the ambulances and medical helicopters were sent to the Saki airbase and the area was sealed off within a radius of five kilometers (three miles).
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy did not directly mention the blasts in his daily video address on Tuesday but said it was right that people were focusing on Crimea, reported Al Jazeera.
"We will never give it up... the Black Sea region cannot be safe while Crimea is occupied," he said, reiterating Kyiv's position that Crimea would have to be returned to Ukraine.
Ukraine's defense ministry earlier issued a statement in a heavily suggestive tone reminiscent of its response to unexplained blasts on Russian territory, saying it "once again draws attention to fire safety rules".
If the base was, in fact, struck by the Ukrainians, it would mark the first known major attack on a Russian military site on the Crimean Peninsula and a significant escalation of the conflict.
The Saki base has been used by Russian warplanes to attack areas in Ukraine's south on short notice. Crimea borders the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, now controlled by Moscow, according to Al Jazeera.
Earlier, the Ukrainian troops launched an attack against the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant using an Uragan multiple rocket launcher, with shrapnel and a rocket engine falling 400 meters (1,312 feet) from the station's operating power unit, the military and civil administration of the city of Enerhodar told Sputnik.
"Tonight, the Ukrainian armed forces carried out a strike using a 220-millimeter Uragan rocket launcher," an administration spokesperson said.
The missile unfolded and released shrapnel warheads as it approached the power units, the spokesperson noted.
Russia launched a "special military operation" in Ukraine on February 24, which the West has termed an unprovoked war. As a result of this, the Western countries have also imposed several crippling sanctions on Moscow.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Vereshchuk: The explosions are another reminder of whose Crimea is
"Today's explosions in Novofedorivka are another reminder of whose Crimea is. Because - it is Ukrainian." This is what the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Reintegration of the Occupied Territories of Ukraine Irina Vereshchuk wrote in Telegram on the occasion of the explosions at the Saki military airport in Crimea. Vereshchuk added that Tuesday, August 9, marks the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, as the Crimean Tatars, Karaites and Krymchaks are considered in Ukraine.
Vereshchuk did not directly announce that Ukraine caused the incident at the airport in Crimea, but the "New York Times", quoting an unnamed source from the Ukrainian army, wrote that behind the explosions in the Russian military base was the Air Force, which in this operation used exclusively and only Ukrainian armament. The former adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Viktor Andrusov also hinted that the powerful explosions in Crimea on August 9 were the result of shelling carried out by the Ukrainian side.
"The demilitarization of the Russian Federation is an integral part of ensuring global security. The future of the Crimean peninsula is to be a pearl of the Black Sea, a national park with unique nature and a world resort. Not a military base for terrorists. Everything is just beginning." - wrote on the occasion of the explosions, the advisor to the Ukrainian president, Mykhailo Podolyak, on Twitter. ТРУХА showed exclusive footage from the moment the explosions started at the Russian base.
????Exclusive footage of the beginning of mega explosion - Novofedorivka, Crimea pic.twitter.com/vXrEThMKUS— ТРУХА⚡️English (@TpyxaNews) August 9, 2022
Russia issued an official initial version of the "causes of the fire" at the Saki airport. "As the main reason for the explosion of several munitions at the Saki airport, only the violation of fire safety requirements is considered. There are no signs, clues or even more facts about a targeted impact on the munitions for the purpose of detonation - there are none." - reported RIA Novosti with reference to its own source in the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. One person died in the "fire", and by 10 p.m. Bulgarian time, the number of injured reached nine. Among them are two children. The injured suffered shrapnel injuries. 30 people have been evacuated from residential buildings in the area of the airport and have been accommodated in boarding houses and hotels.
Late on Tuesday, the OSINTtechnical channel tweeted a video of a completely destroyed Russian Su-24 on the airstrip.
Original video pic.twitter.com/nZwlxksX22— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) August 9, 2022
Against the background of the announcement of a yellow code and an increased risk of terrorism, as the potential attacks from Ukraine are called on the territory of the occupied Crimea, the Ministry of Resorts of Crimea pleased the population of the annexed peninsula with good news. According to the department, quoted by RIA Novosti, the beach in Novofedorivka was not damaged and tourists continue to rest there.
The base in Novofederovka is a former naval base of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. It has been in Russian hands since 2014, and at the time of Tuesday's explosion, it was home to the 43rd Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Russian Air Force, consisting mainly of Su-30SM, Su-33 and Su-24M bombers. From Saki, the Russian army carries out airstrikes and aerial bombardments of Ukrainian cities.
Burnt cars, buildings without windows in Novofedorivka after the explosions at the Saki airbase in Crimea
Ukraine does not accept responsibility for Tuesday's explosions at the Russian airbase in Crimea, the adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mikhail Podolyak, told the independent Russian TV station Dozhd, quoted by Reuters. On Tuesday, two strong explosions were registered at the Saki military airport in Novofedorivka, and according to the Russian side, it was a simple fire incident as a result of non-compliance with safety rules and the detonation of ammunition.
On the occasion of the incident, Podolyak hinted that the attack may have been the work of partisans. Asked if Kyiv would take responsibility for the blasts, Zelensky's adviser said: "Of course not. What do we have to do with this". At the same time, however, on social networks on Tuesday, Podolyak wrote: "Everything is just beginning."
New video footage surfaced on the Internet Wednesday morning showing more damage than previously thought to civilian infrastructure around Saki Airport. According to one of the records, cars located 400 meters from the airport were incinerated. Another video shows the panorama of a residential area in Novofedorivka with broken windows of the buildings and a claim that all the buildings within a radius of 1 kilometer from the site of the explosions are without windows. TASS reports that the joinery of the "Pud" supermarket was completely destroyed, and there is no electricity in the town. According to the Russian agency, the building of the Cultural Center, which is located more than a kilometer from the place of the explosion, was damaged.
1/4 Le autorità russe nascondono deliberatamente la dimensione reale della distruzione e il numero di morti e feriti dopo l'attacco all'aeroporto militare in Crimea#SlavaUkraini#StandWithUkraine#RussiaIsATerroristState pic.twitter.com/h4vhGYJyLx— Gianluca (@Gianl1974) August 10, 2022
Ukrainian President Zelensky indirectly commented on the explosions in Novofedorivka during his daily video address to the people of Ukraine.
"The military conflict must end on the peninsula where it began in 2014. Russian authorities have turned Crimea, which has always been one of the most beautiful places in Europe, into one of the most dangerous. But we will return to Crimea," Zelensky said.
The incident in Crimea was also a topic of the White House briefing on Tuesday. When asked by a journalist about the "series of explosions at the Russian airbase in Crimea" and whether the United States considers Crimea a legitimate target for the Air Force, to which the Pentagon provides weapons, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, quoted by "Voice of America", said :
"As you know, we support Ukraine's efforts to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, as we have repeatedly stated. The struggle continues in the East and Southwest and is far from over. We warned that this could be a long and drawn out war. And in the future, we will provide support for Ukraine to resist Russia's unprovoked aggression, and that is the focus of our attention... We will continue to support Ukraine in their fight for their freedom, in their fight for their sovereignty against the brutal attack on the part of Russia".
At the same time, analysts at the Washington-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said the Kremlin was not telling the truth about the explosions in Novofedorivka. According to the institute, Russian authorities do not officially blame Ukraine for causing explosions at their military base in Crimea, because if they did, they would admit that Russian air defense systems were ineffective, as in the attack on the cruiser "Moskva" (Moscow).
Russia installs air defense system at Zaporizhzhia NPP
Russian forces yesterday began installing an air defense system at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, after shelling of the occupied Ukrainian plant raised concerns about its safety, DPA reported, quoted by BTA.
"The air defense systems of the power plant are being strengthened," Yevgeny Balitsky, head of the Moscow-appointed military administration in the Zaporizhzhia region, told Russian state television. "At the moment, the Zaporizhzhia plant is operating normally, and the power lines and the damaged reactor units have been repaired," Balitsky added.
The nuclear plant, which is under Russian control, has been shelled several times in recent days, raising concerns among the international community about the facility's safety. Moscow and Kyiv blame each other for the attacks.
Russia has hinted that it could support a visit by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitors to the plant.
"For our part, we are ready to provide the maximum possible assistance to solve the organizational issues," the Russian Foreign Ministry said yesterday.
Moscow also accused the UN of canceling an already planned inspection visit. Russia requested a meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday afternoon in New York to discuss the situation at the nuclear power plant.
Russia: We will destroy the Bayraktar plant in Ukraine
Russia will destroy the Bayraktar TB2 drone production plant planned to be built in Ukraine.
This was announced by the press secretary of the Russian president Dmitry Peskov, quoted by "Ukrainiansworld".
"The fact of creating such an object will most likely immediately fall into the topic of demilitarization. Well, it will only prolong the suffering of Ukrainians, but it will not help to avoid the goals of the 'special military operation,'" he said.
On the eve of this statement, the Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey Vasyl Bodnar announced that the construction of a Bayraktar drone production plant in Ukraine is in the preparation stage. In particular, the project of the plant itself has already been developed and a plot of land has been purchased.
The Bayraktar drones proved particularly effective in repulsing Russian forces, especially in the early weeks of the war, when the Ukrainian military did not yet have advanced Western weapon systems such as HIMARS.
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