Fires and explosions reported at military targets in Russia and Crimea | Russia

Fires and explosions have been reported at military targets inside Russia and in Russian-held parts of Ukraine, in the latest in a series of apparent sabotage missions deep into Russian territory.

Two Russian villages have been evacuated after a fire at a munitions depot near the Ukrainian border in Belgorod province. “An ammunition depot caught fire near the village of Timonovo,” less than 50 km from the border, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a statement, adding that no casualties were reported.

At least four explosions struck near the large Belbek airbase north of Sevastopol on the occupied Crimea peninsula. Pro-Russian Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said: “There is no harm. Nobody was hurt.”

Air defenses were also activated near Kerch, the city at the Crimean end of a bridge to mainland Russia, a strategically important supply route that many in Ukraine would like to see destroyed. Local media reported that a Ukrainian drone had been shot down.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense commented with a wink tweet after footage of fires in Timonovo was circulated, with the short message “Smoking kills!”. Officials have previously joked that explosions and fires at military targets in occupied Crimea were caused by “careless smokers”.

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Thursday night’s incidents came shortly after devastating explosions at a major air force base and ammunition depot in Crimea. After these attacks, many Russians rushed to leave the peninsula, with a record 38,000 cars crossing on Tuesday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday that panicked Russians realized Crimea was “no place for them” and hinted that more attacks could be imminent.

He urged Ukrainians to stay away from enemy command posts and logistics bases. “Do not approach the military objects of the Russian army,” he said.

Crimea is a key hub for the Russian invasion, and Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia’s military leaders are likely to be “increasingly concerned” with the spate of backlash there, even if Moscow has dismissed it as local “sabotage.”

Six suspected Islamist extremists were arrested on Wednesday, Moscow-appointed head of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov said. It was not clear what relation, if any, those arrested had to the recent attacks.