On October 1, footage of black fumes rising over the Belbek military air base in Crimea went viral. The cause of the explosions was said to be a Russian military plane that caught fire on the runway.
Mikhail Razvozhaev, the governor of Sevastopol appointed by Russia, said there was a partial detonation of munitions during the incident at the airfield where a landing jet went off the runway and went up in flames.
Social media users immediately shared videos of a big black cloud of smoke bursting into the sky as a backdrop to a Crimean beach.
BREAKING: Aircraft catches fire during landing at Belbek airfield in Crimea. Explosions reported. pic.twitter.com/kY1qaaI4dR
— Faytuks News Δ (@Faytuks) October 1, 2022
“Regarding the situation at Belbek. During landing, a plane went beyond the runway, there was a partial explosion of ammunition. The pilot managed to eject. The fire was quickly extinguished, and the airfield was not damaged.”
Курящій літачок) pic.twitter.com/hSayicrSc3
— RoksolanaКрымUA (@RoksolanaKrim) October 1, 2022
Firefighters could control the smoke, and the pilot was safely evacuated, Razvozhaev added. The New York Times also reported that there was no evidence that the incident had any connection with the Ukrainian forces.
A Series of Explosions in Crimea
In August, a series of explosions damaged at least eight warplanes and many structures at the Saki air base on Crimea’s western Black Sea coast.
Russian authorities claimed that a nearby munitions stockpile caught fire due to a fire safety oversight, igniting an unidentified number of aviation weapon systems.
Moscow also denied the claim that any aircraft were destroyed in the incident. On the other hand, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces initially did not take responsibility for the incident, although it did declare that nine Russian planes were destroyed.
However, many Ukrainian officials indicated that their soldiers conducted the attacks with the assistance of partisans.
In a daily report on August 10, the Institute for the Study of War referred to the airfield explosions as an “attack,” but it added that it is still unable to determine if such damage was brought on by special forces, local rebels, or rockets fired from a distance.
The institution asserts that although the Russian forces stationed at the airfield knew what occurred, they were unsure of the Ukrainian military’s attack’s method and origin.
Separately, it was recently reported that a recent string of explosions in Crimea prompted Russia to relocate some of its aircraft and Black Sea Fleet troops from the peninsula. The redeployed Russian aircraft were flown to airfields inside Russian territory.
To “avoid getting hit,” certain warships and supply ships may also be relocated from Sevastopol, the main city in Crimea and a significant Black Sea port, to Novorossiysk, according to the Main Directorate of Intelligence for Ukraine.
Nevertheless, the Ukrainian military first acknowledged firing missiles toward Russian military installations in Crimea at the beginning of September.
An article co-written by Ukrainian commander General Valeriy Zaluzhniy and Mykhaylo Zabrodskiy, first deputy chairman of the legislative Committee on National Defense and Intelligence, claims that Ukraine was responsible for the attack on the Saky air base in Crimea on August 9.
The state-run Ukrinform news agency published the article on September 7. The attack destroyed at least nine military aircraft, including Su-30SM fighters and Su-24M bombers, in the Saky attack.
Several structures that might have housed ammunition were also destroyed. The article praised the Ukrainian military forces’ recent attempts to “physically transfer fighting” to the Crimean peninsula as “successful.”
“We are talking about a series of successful missile strikes on the enemy’s Crimean air bases, first of all, on the Saky airfield,” Zaluzhniy and Zabrodskiy said in the article.
They went on to say that the Ukrainian military’s goal in 2023 will be “to make these feelings sharper, more natural, and quite tangible for the Russians and in other occupied territories.”
The authors further stated that Ukraine required quality rather than quantity of armaments from its western allies. They claimed that Ukraine might carry the effects of the war closer to Russia if the West provided weapons with longer ranges.