– Russia talks of “act of sabotage” after new outbreak in Crimea
An ammunition depot exploded on the occupied peninsula. Russia confirms the attack – and Kiev follows the action with clear words.
Another explosion has occurred at a military complex in Crimea, a Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula linked to Russia, according to officials. An ammunition depot exploded in northern Crimea on Tuesday morning, officials said.
The Ministry of Defense in Moscow speaks of a “sabotage”. An army camp was hit in the attack on Tuesday morning. Moscow reported that several public facilities were damaged, including power lines, a power plant and railway lines, and some residential buildings.
Videos on social networks showed a huge fire and a cloud of smoke. The head of the Crimean administration, Sergei Aksyonov, said at the site in the Zhankoy region that two were wounded. According to official reports, 2000 people had to be brought to safety.
Train traffic was disrupted
A shocked Aksyonov said the Russian Defense Ministry should comment on the causes of the explosion. At first it was only said that there was a fire in the warehouse.
The explosions continued, Aksyonov explained in a video message on his blog on the Telegram news channel. “Evacuation is underway, and a five-kilometer safety zone is being created for the safety of residents,” Aksyonov said. People are temporarily housed in schools. Defense Department, National Guard and Civil Defense Force have been deployed to douse the fire.
According to officials, the explosion occurred in the village of Myskoi, on the site of a former farm used as an ammunition depot by the Russian armed forces. The substation for power supply must also have caught fire. The first information about this came from Ukrainian sources in the morning.
It was the third military incident in Crimea this summer — and one with far-reaching consequences. According to Acciono, train services were disrupted in the region. People will be taken to their destinations by bus, he said. Train connections from Moscow run through Dschankoi via the new Crimean Bridge to Simferopol, the capital on the peninsula. Trains from Moscow should only go as far as Vladislava. As air traffic is suspended, many tourists use the train in summer to travel to Black Sea resorts.
Ukraine again points to attack
A week ago on Tuesday Heavy bombs exploded at a Russian military base. According to officials, one person was killed and 14 injured in the explosions at the site in Sakhi, near the resort town of Novfeodorovka. Experts believe it attacked the Ukrainian base and destroyed several warplanes. However, Kiev has not officially confirmed the attack. On the other hand, Russia claims that the explosion was caused by fire safety violations.
“This is just the beginning,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak wrote on Twitter after last week’s explosion. He now wrote about the new incident: “The morning began with explosions near Tachankoj. As a reminder: the Crimea of an ordinary country means the Black Sea, mountains, recreation and tourism; Russian-occupied Crimea is a high risk of warehouse explosions and raiders and thieves. Militarization is underway.”
Andriy Yermak, Ukraine’s chief of staff, indicated that the bombing was a targeted attack. And it continues: “The operation of ‘demilitarization’ in the precise style of the military will continue until the full return of Ukrainian territories”.
According to Moscow, a Ukrainian drone attacked the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the port city of Sevastopol on July 31. Even then there were injuries. Ukraine dismissed the Russian account as “fabricated”.
A tense situation in Crimea
The incidents have now raised questions among Russian observers about how well the heavily armed peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014, is actually protected. Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin has repeatedly announced that Crimea’s security needs to be strengthened.
Russian regions along the border with Ukraine are also reporting a very tense situation following alleged attacks from the neighboring country. The governors of Bryansk, Kursk and Belgorod are reporting injuries and heavy destruction. But Russia has so far not followed through on threats to bomb command centers in Kiev if the shelling does not stop.
It is not possible to independently verify who carried out the attack. However, it is clear that the new explosive case is also damaging Russia’s image as a guarantor of security in Crimea.
Crimea has become one of the most dangerous places in Europe, President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week. “The Black Sea region cannot be secure as long as Crimea is occupied,” he said. “This Russian war against Ukraine, against all of free Europe, began with Crimea and must end with Crimea and its liberation.”