Ukrainian military official claims Ukrainian military was behind attack on Russian air base in Crimea
A Ukrainian military official, speaking anonymously, said Ukrainian forces were behind the attack that caused multiple explosions at a Russian airbase in western Crimea, a Ukrainian territory annexed by Moscow since 2014, on Tuesday. Kyiv has refused to confirm its army’s involvement, and this military official’s information could not be independently verified. However, it was leaked by the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Local authorities in Crimea reported several explosions at the site of a military airfield on Tuesday. The Russian army then claimed that no gunfire or bombardment was the cause of these explosions, stating that “several ammunition was intended for aviation [avaient] exploded in a depot on the territory of the Saky military airfield near the town of Novofedorivka”. One person was killed.
Ukraine’s Air Force said in a statement that nine Russian military planes were destroyed in the blasts at the airbase, which authorities believe is being used by Russian forces as a missile launch base. However, the statement does not clearly allege an attack. Similarly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said nothing about the event on Tuesday, but focused his daily video address on Crimea and pledged to retake the territory.
The Ukrainian official, who spoke anonymously, did not disclose the type of weapon that caused the blasts, saying only that it was an “exclusively Ukrainian-made device.” According to the New York Times, Ukraine has few weapons that could reach the Crimea peninsula, with the use of aircraft unlikely given the numerous Russian defense forces in the area. The targeted air base is about 160 kilometers from the nearest Ukrainian position.
So is military historian and former naval colonel Michel Goya, who regularly delivers his analysis of the war in Ukraine on TwitterShe wonders what weapon the Ukrainian armed forces could have used – if they really were behind this “particularly brazen” attack[se] and disturbing[e] for the Russians. One of the only hypotheses he finds plausible is the use of ballistic missiles fired from Himars multiple rocket launchers, supplied by the United States, with a range of 300 kilometers. A thesis that, however, contradicts the Ukrainian official’s claim of an “exclusively Ukrainian” manufacture.
The source also claimed that resistance forces loyal to the Kiev government were involved in the attack, but did not specify whether these forces carried out the operation or merely aided the attack. Mr. Goya assessed the internal resistance in Crimea as “non-existent (…) but very weak and non-violent”.
Also read: In Crimea, explosions at a Russian base embarrass the Kremlin