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Deadly explosions in Crimea are just the beginning, Ukraine warns Russia





After explosions rocked a Russian air base in occupied Crimea on Tuesday, Ukrainian government officials warned that the blasts were just the beginning and vowed to liberate the territory, which Moscow annexed in 2014.

It was not immediately known who was responsible for the explosions on the west coast of the peninsula, in an area of ​​beach resorts. An aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky distanced Kiev from the attack. A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said it appeared that Ukrainian forces had carried out an attack using a weapon that was not provided by the United States. US officials referred additional questions about the operation to Ukraine.

The attack, if carried out by Ukraine, would constitute a dramatic escalation in the nearly 6-month-old war. This would demonstrate a remarkable ability by Ukrainian forces, or their allies, to strike Russia far from the front lines, deep into territory where Russian tourists are so comfortable with their security that they hang out near the base on the sandy beaches of the Sea. Black.

In multiple social media posts, thick plumes of gray smoke could be seen rising above the base. Witnesses said they heard at least 12 explosions, Reuters reported, around 3:20 p.m. near Novofedorivka, Crimea. Moscow used the Black Sea territory, which borders Ukraine’s Kherson region, to launch forces into Ukraine in February.

Ukraine did not claim responsibility for the attack, although some comments from senior officials appeared to straddle that line.

Today, there is a lot of attention on the topic of Crimea. And rightly so, Zelensky said in his nightly speech. “Crimea is Ukrainian and we will never give it up.”

In a statement posted on social media, apparently aimed at hitting Moscow, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said it could not determine the cause of the fire, but recalled the Russian side of the dangers of “smoking in unspecified places.

In another post, the Ukrainians seemed to further shock the Russians: “The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine would like to remind everyone that the presence of occupation troops on the territory of Ukrainian Crimea is not compatible with the high tourist season.”

The Crimean peninsula should be the pearl of the Black Sea, a national park with unique nature, not a military base for terrorists, Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, wrote on Twitter. It’s just the beginning, he wrote, referring to Tuesday’s explosions.

In an interview with Dozhd, an independent Russian online broadcaster, Podolyak did not claim responsibility, saying anti-Russian partisans may have carried out the attack.

Today’s explosions in Novofedorivka are another reminder of who Crimea belongs to. Because it is Ukraine, wrote Ukrainian Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

A series of explosions at a Russian air base in occupied Crimea rocked areas of the city of Novofedorivka on August 9. (Video: Storyful)

In a statement, Russia’s Defense Ministry said the munitions had exploded at a storage site at Saky airport and that the blasts were not the result of weapons being aimed at the depot.

Crimea’s Russian-backed leader Sergei Aksyonov quickly warned that it was too early to talk about casualties. But within an hour of the blasts, Aksyonov said one person had died.

Russian state media reported that several victims were injured, including four cut by glass fragments and a fifth hospitalized with a chest wound. A child was among the injured, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

In one post on Telegram, Aksyonov said the situation was localized and under control and that there was no general evacuation in the region.

About 30 people were evacuated from houses in Novofedorivka, to nearby hostels and hotels, RIA News reported.

A high level (yellow) terrorist threat alert would be in place between August 9 and 24 in some areas, including some urban districts and government facilities, Aksyonov has written.

Isabelle Khurshudyan and David Stern in Kiev contributed to this report.




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