Crimea was rocked again by explosions on Tuesday, August 16, when a Russian air base and an ammunition store on the Russian-held peninsula went up in flames, forcing the local authorities in Crimea to declare a state of emergency.
As per the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) account, explosions occurred in Northern Crimea on Tuesday at a temporary ammunition storage site on a base near the village of Mayskoye in the Dzhankoi area at about 06:15 Moscow time (03:15 GMT).
The Russian MoD described the incident as sabotage without taking names. It said the explosions caused damage “to a number of civilian objects, including power lines, a power station, a railroad, and several residential houses.”
The damage to the railway has also disrupted train traffic, due to which some trains in northern Crimea were diverted to other lines.
The Russian-appointed head of the ‘Republic of Crimea,’ Sergey Aksenov, declared a region-wide state of emergency following the incident.
Was Ukraine Involved?
While Ukraine has not officially accepted the responsibility for the attack, one of the advisors to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Mykhailo Podolyak, indicated Ukrainian involvement in the explosions in Dzhankoi.
Morning near Dzhankoi began with explosions. A reminder: Crimea of normal country is about the Black Sea, mountains, recreation and tourism, but Crimea occupied by Russians is about warehouses explosions and high risk of death for invaders and thieves. Demilitarization in action.
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) August 16, 2022
“Morning near Dzhankoi began with explosions. A reminder: Crimea of normal country is about the Black Sea, mountains, recreation, and tourism, but Crimea, occupied by Russians is about warehouses explosions and high risk of death for invaders and thieves. Demilitarization in action (sic),” Podolyak tweeted on August 16.
However, the New York Times reported that the incident was the work of “an elite Ukrainian military unit.”
Ukraine’s Air Force Command spokesman, Yuriy Ignat, denied involvement in the explosions, saying the incident resulted from Russia “not observing fire precautions.”
“We are, of course, satisfied by the fact because Dzhankoi [where the explosions took place] was one of the locations where the enemy kept their helicopters and other equipment,” Ignat told a news conference.
The videos of explosions in Dzhankoi have been circulating on social media, showing flames and clouds of smoke emerging from the site.
Looks like a transformer station has been hit near Dzhankoi in Crimea
Mysterious explosions in Crimea are becoming a weekly occurrence… pic.twitter.com/4WD4yxzOxs
— Dmitri Alperovitch (@DAlperovitch) August 16, 2022
Meanwhile, the Russian Russian Kommersant newspaper reported that a military air base located southwest of Dzhankoi at Hvardiiske near Simferopol also came under attack.
According to Kommersant, “clouds of black smoke” could be seen rising from the base, and the attack was possibly carried out using a small drone.
Several explosions at military air base in Crimea;
Explosions at a military air base in the village of Hvardiiske near Simferopol
– A military warehouse in the Dzhankoy region (Crimea) was damaged & a number of civilian facilities were damaged – Russian Kommersant pic.twitter.com/QRriR2M30L
— @KassMedefer (@KMedefer) August 16, 2022
The air base is home to the 37th Composite Aviation Regiment, and according to Christo Grozev, the lead investigator for Bellingcat, it “housed 12 SU-24М and 12 SU-25СМ planes and was integrated with the Russian Navy.”
Past Two Tuesdays Prove Disastrous For Moscow
The latest series of explosions in Crimea came exactly one week after another Russian military air base in the Saki town on the peninsula’s western shore was also rocked by explosions last Tuesday, August 9.
The cause of the explosions, as of yet, remains unexplained. Still, the incident resulted in the loss of several Russian fighter jets, including the Su-24 and the widely deployed Su-30, according to a EurAsian Times report last week.
The air base is home to the 43rd Independent Naval Attack Aviation Regiment of the Black Sea fleet, which operates a combination, primarily of Su-30SM, Su-24M, and Su-24MR fighter aircraft.
Based on the commercial satellite imagery showing the aftermath of explosions, at least ten fighter jets were severely damaged or destroyed, with experts estimating that five were Su-24 Fencers and three were Su-30 fighter jets. If verified, the losses would be the greatest suffered by the Russian air force in a single day since the onset of the Ukraine war in February.
— Brady Africk (@bradyafr) August 10, 2022
In addition, other aircraft like the Su-23, Il-76, and the Tu-134UBL were also affected by the explosions up to some extent and shifted to other locations.
Meanwhile, the Russian-occupied Kherson region is witnessing a hotly contested battle between the Russian and Ukrainian forces. Ukraine has launched a counter-offensive to take back its land.
As recently reported by EurAsian Times, two primary bridges essential for the Russian forces to resupply their troops across the Dnieper River have reportedly been rendered inoperable due to repeated shelling by the Ukrainian troops using HIMARS.
The Russian Army has now been forced to use pontoon bridges and a ferry to resupply its troops on the other side, per the satellite images that surfaced on social media.