More than half of Russian Naval Aviation’s fighter jets from the Black Sea Fleet were disabled in a series of explosions at a Russian air base in Crimea earlier this month, according to a Western official quoted in a Portal report on Friday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said that in the ongoing war that began on February 24, Ukraine is now far behind Russia’s lines constantly requiring “kinetic effects” on the Russian leadership,” the official said .
Newsweek was unable to independently verify the Russian jet losses and reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for confirmation and comment.
Saki airfield was hit by a series of explosions on August 9 that the Russian Defense Ministry attributed to detonated aircraft ammunition. State news agency Ria Novosti reported at the time that one person was killed and several others injured, but Russia has denied that planes were destroyed, according to the Associated Press.
Above, members of the Russian Navy patrol outside the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea, July 31, 2022. More than half of Russian Naval Aviation’s Black Sea Fleet fighter jets were killed in a series of explosions at a Russian air base in Crimea earlier this month, according to a Western official quoted in a Portal report on Friday. STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images
However, there is unconfirmed evidence that this is not the case.
This was announced by the British Ministry of Defense in its August 12 intelligence report To update that at least five Su-24 FENCER fighter-bombers and three SU-30 FLANKER H multirole jets were “almost certainly destroyed or badly damaged” in the explosions at Saki.
“The loss of eight fighter jets represents a small fraction of the total aircraft fleet Russia has at its disposal to support the war,” the update said. “However, [Saki] was mainly used as a base for the aircraft of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet. The fleet’s naval capability is now significantly reduced.”
The update added that the blasts “are likely to cause the Russian military to revise its threat perception.”
“Crimea was probably seen as a safe haven,” it said.
Newsweek was unable to independently verify the information.
Russia annexed Crimea, which lies on the north coast of the Black Sea, in 2014 and has been pushing for international recognition that it is part of Russia ever since. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in an August 9 address after the blasts, vowed that Ukraine would never give up Crimea.
“This Russian war against Ukraine and against all of free Europe started with Crimea and must end with Crimea – with its liberation,” he said, according to an English translation. “Today it is impossible to say when this will happen. But we are constantly adding the necessary components to the formula of [the] Liberation of Crimea.”