Large explosion rocks Russian military airfield in Crimea, killing at least one

The New York Times, quoted an unnamed senior Ukrainian military official as saying Ukrainian forces were behind the blast. “This was an air base from which planes regularly took off to attack our forces in the southern theater of the war,” the official was quoted as saying.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on Telegram: “Today is the International Day of Indigenous Peoples. In Ukraine, Crimean Tatars, Karaites and Krymchaks are considered such. Today’s explosions in Novofedorivka are another reminder of who owns Crimea. Because it is Ukraine.”

The Washington Post quoted unnamed US officials as saying Ukrainian forces carried out an attack with a weapon not provided by the United States.

During the war, Russia reported numerous fires and explosions in ammunition dumps on its territory near the Ukrainian border, attributing some of these to Ukrainian strikes. The Ukrainian authorities have largely remained silent about the incidents, maintaining an ambiguous stance.

If Ukrainian forces were actually responsible for the blasts, this would be the first known major attack on a Russian military base in the Crimean peninsula, which the Kremlin annexed in 2014. A smaller explosion last month at the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the port of Sevastopol in Crimea has been blamed on Ukrainian saboteurs using a makeshift drone.

Russian warplanes have used the Saki base for short-term strikes in southern Ukraine.

Crimea’s head Sergei Aksyonov said ambulances and medical helicopters were dispatched to the base and the area sealed off within a five-kilometer radius.

According to the Crimean regional leader, one person was killed, he said. Crimea’s health authorities said eight people were injured, one of whom remained hospitalized. Others were treated for lacerations from broken glass and released.

Ukrainian soldiers at the front in the Mykolaiv region this week.

Ukrainian soldiers at the front in the Mykolaiv region this week.Recognition:AP

Officials in Moscow have long warned Ukraine that any attack on Crimea would trigger massive retaliation, including strikes against “decision centers” in Kyiv.

Earlier on Tuesday (Ukrainian time), Ukrainian officials reported that at least three Ukrainian civilians were killed and 23 injured by Russian shelling in a 24-hour period, including an attack near the Russian-held Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.

The Russians have fired over 120 rockets at the town of Nikopol across the Dnieper, Dnipropetrovsk Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said. Several residential buildings and industrial plants were damaged, he said.

Bay of Sevastopol in Crimea.

Bay of Sevastopol in Crimea.Recognition:AP

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of shelling the power plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, fueling international fears of a disaster.

In his nightly video speech on Monday (Ukraine time), Zelenskyy referred to the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. He called for new sanctions against Russia and accused it of risking another nuclear disaster.

“We are actively informing the world about Russian nuclear blackmail,” he said.

The Kremlin claimed that the Ukrainian military was attacking the plant and called on the western powers to force Kyiv to stop.


A Russian-deployed official in the partially occupied Zaporizhia region said an air defense system at the plant was being reinforced after last week’s shelling. Evgeny Balitsky, head of the Kremlin-backed administration, told Russian state television that power lines and other damaged parts of the facility have been restored.

“The system works normally, but of course with an increased level of safety,” said Balitsky.

Ukrainians have been counterattacking in Russian-held areas of southern Ukraine in recent weeks while trying to hold off Kremlin forces in the industrialized Donbass region in the east of the country.

AP, Reuters

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Joel McCord

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