Explosions refocus Ukraine’s war on Russian-annexed Crimea

Kyiv, Ukraine –

The world’s attention on Russia’s war in Ukraine on Tuesday was again focused on the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula, where a mysterious fire at an ammunition storage and explosions that injured two people was the second incident in a week to rock Moscow sensibilities.

About 2,000 people were evacuated from nearby areas, the local governor said. Videos of the fire and explosions posted on social media showed plumes of smoke rising above the raging flames, and a series of multiple explosions could be heard in the background.

“Russian-occupied Crimea is about warehouse explosions and high risk of death for invaders and thieves,” said a cryptic Twitter message from Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, who stopped short of claiming any Ukraine responsibility for the incident.

Fire and explosions rocked the village of Mayskoye in Crimea’s Dzhankoi district early Tuesday, Russian media also reported. It was a reinforced message in Kyiv.

“The morning near Dzhankoi started with explosions. A reminder: normal country Crimea is about the Black Sea, mountains, recreation and tourism,” Podolyak wrote, referring to the time before Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014.

The Russian Defense Ministry said a fire broke out at a “temporary ammunition storage site of one of the military units”.

“As a result of the fire, the stored ammunition detonated,” the ministry said, adding that it was not immediately clear what caused the fire.

Crimea’s Dzhankoi district is in the north of the peninsula, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Russian-controlled Kherson region of southern Ukraine. Kyiv has recently mounted a series of attacks at various sites in the region, targeting supply routes for the Russian military there and ammunition depots.

Russian-appointed Crimean Governor Sergei Aksyonov said two people were injured in the latest incident and local residents were being evacuated from the area as ammunition explosions continued.

Aksyonov said some residential buildings were damaged near the fire site and some 2,000 people were evacuated from nearby areas. According to Russian media, railway lines passing through Mayskoye were also damaged.

Aksyonov said all trains will stop at the town of Vladislavovka, about 90 kilometers south of Mayskoye, and passengers will be able to continue their journey by bus.

Last week, a series of explosions occurred at the Saki air base, near the Novofyodorovka village in Crimea. The Russian military attributed the explosions to an accidental detonation of ammunition there, but the incident appeared to be the result of a Ukrainian attack. Kyiv said the blasts destroyed nine Russian planes.

Ukrainian officials at the time stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility for the explosions, while scoffing at Russia’s explanation that a careless smoker could have caused ammunition at the Saki air base to catch fire and explode. Analysts also said that the explanation does not make sense and that the Ukrainians could have used anti-ship missiles to attack the base.

The Crimean peninsula is of great strategic and symbolic importance to both sides. The Kremlin’s demand that Ukraine recognize Crimea as part of Russia has been one of its key conditions for ending the fighting, while Ukraine has vowed to expel the Russians from the peninsula and all other occupied territories.

And an intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense claimed that in the waters off Crimea, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet surface ships “continue to take an extremely defensive posture”, with ships barely venturing out of sight. of the coast.

Russia has already lost its flagship Moskva in the Black Sea and last month the Ukrainian military retook the strategic outpost of Snake Island off Ukraine’s southwestern coast, vital to securing sea routes from Odessa, Ukraine’s largest port. Ukraine.

The “limited effectiveness of the Russian fleet undermines Russia’s overall invasion strategy,” the British statement said. “This means Ukraine can divert resources to put pressure on Russian ground forces elsewhere.”

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