Large Explosion At Russian Air Base In Russian-Controlled Crimea
NOVOFEDOROVKA, CRIMEA - On August 9th at 3:20 pm local time, a very powerful explosion shook Crimea, as the Saky Russian air base in the annexed region explodes into flames, marking a major escalation in the war in Ukraine. Plumes of smoke filled the sky, causing residents and tourists to flee the city as first responders raced towards the blast.
According to TASS, the airfield is used by the Russian Defense Ministry to launch aircraft, helicopters, and also naval air assets. There is also a flight training facility there called NITKA which is used for practicing landings and take-offs.
The Russian Defense Ministry denied the base was hit by Ukrainian long-range missiles stating that explosions were caused by not properly maintaining equipment in a safe manner, causing munitions to ignite, according to Tass News Agency.
Various forms of social media began going viral on Monday with videos of tourists fleeing beaches as smoke and fire filled the air in the distance, accompanied by loud explosions.
Oleksiy Arestovych, one of Zelensky's presidential advisors, stated in a cryptic manner, that the explosions were either Ukrainian partisans in operation in the area or Ukrainian long-range weapons.
Several munitions storage depots have caught fire and experienced explosions along the Russian-Ukrainian border, with Russia blaming the Ukrainian insurgency as the cause, though Ukrainian authorities have not claimed responsibility for any as of yet.
There was a smaller blast in July at the Russian headquarters of its Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol which was also, which Russia also pointed the finger at Ukraine. If Ukrainian forces were responsible for the blast at the Saky air base and Sevastopol, these would be the first major attacks in the area, since 2014, when it was annexed by Russia.
Russia has long warned that any attack on Crimea would cause major retaliation on "decision-making centers" in the capital, Kyiv.
In his nightly address, President Zelensky stated this:
"Today there is a lot of attention on the topic of Crimea. And rightly so,... Crimea is Ukrainian, and we will never give it up."
Crimea's regional leader, Sergei Aksyonov, has stated that one person was killed, and the Crimean municipal authorities have said that 14 people were wounded, and one is still in the hospital. Others were treated and released.
According to the New York Times, an unnamed Ukrainian official with knowledge of the situation stated that the blast at the air base was the result of Ukrainian forces, also stating that the weapon used was a device of exclusive Ukrainian manufacture.
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