On May 13, dramatic videos started circulating on social media capturing the aftermath of a massive explosion in the western Ukrainian city of Khmelnytskyi, triggered by a coordinated assault from Russian drones.
Reports indicate that a wave of 21 attack drones targeted the city, with 17 out of 21 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) successfully neutralized during the night, resulting in four direct hits in the Khmelnytskyi region, as confirmed by Yuriy Ihnat, spokesperson for the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The exact weapon that triggered the explosion remains unknown, aside from the reports of a drone strike. But Russia had attacked a similar storage facility in eastern Ukraine just two weeks before, causing similar destruction and a large crater at the center of the explosion.
The explosion in the footage resembles the chain reaction typically observed during the detonation of large ammunition or explosive storage facilities.
However, the exact contents of the storage site at the time of the blast also remain uncertain. It is suspected that the facility contained outdated ammunition and explosive materials dating back to the Cold War era.
— OSINT Engineer (@OsintEngineer) May 13, 2023
There are also suggestions that newer ammunition used in the ongoing war effort might have been stored there.
Moscow’s targeted destruction of these facilities aims to eliminate any relevant materials stored within them and cause significantly destructive secondary explosions.
The destruction of Ukraine’s ammunition storage facilities has become common, occurring with alarming frequency.
Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Defense said the attack destroyed an ammunition depot and hangar at the Starokostiantyniv airbase in Khmelnytskyi.
Recent satellite imagery also shows that a significant portion of an ammunition and explosives storage site located west of Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine, has been completely obliterated.
The satellite images captured on May 14 vividly display the aftermath of the catastrophic explosion, with the storage area exhibiting widespread devastation and prominent signs of scarring and discoloration.
The sheer magnitude of the damage is particularly noteworthy, considering that the secure storage area spans a half-mile width.
Ukraine Achieves 1st Offensive Success In Bakhmut
On May 15, Ukraine’s military announced that they had made progress in pushing back Russian forces in the fight to control Bakhmut, marking their first successful counterattack.
The significance of the Bakhmut region has emerged as a crucial factor in the ongoing conflict between the two nations.
Having initiated its full-scale invasion of Ukraine almost 15 months ago, Moscow has identified Bakhmut as a strategic point for further incursions into other Ukrainian cities.
In contrast, Kyiv has stressed the importance of defending Bakhmut, as this allows the military to prepare for the anticipated counteroffensive.
While Ukraine’s military has achieved progress in pushing back Russian forces in Bakhmut, officials in Kyiv have cautioned that the situation remains challenging. They highlighted that Moscow had not abandoned its objective of capturing the city and was deploying assault troops to the outskirts of Bakhmut.
The Ukrainian military confirmed last week that it had initiated a successful effort to push Russian forces back in and around the Bakhmut area following months of intense fighting.
Moscow has also acknowledged its forces retreating to the city’s north, marking a shift in the conflict dynamics.
In a statement posted on the Telegram messaging app, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander of Ground Forces, praised the recent advance of Ukrainian troops along the Bakhmut direction, hailing it as the first successful offensive action in defense of the city.
“The last few days have shown that we can move forward and destroy the enemy even in such tough conditions,” he said. “We are fighting with fewer resources than the enemy. At the same time, we are able to ruin its plans.”
Kyiv is expected to start a significant counteroffensive to reclaim Russian-occupied territory.
However, Ukrainian officials have clarified that the gains made in the Bakhmut region do not signal the commencement of the broader counterattack.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar has provided an update on the situation in Bakhmut, stating that intense fighting persists in and around the area.
She emphasized the challenging conditions prevailing in the region, noting that “everything” is difficult there. Maliar further highlighted that the Russian forces had not altered their objectives and were dispatching assault troops to the outskirts of Bakhmut.