- An estimated eight warplanes and several buildings were destroyed at a Russian airbase in Crimea.
- Russia on Tuesday underestimated the blasts, but satellite images showed widespread damage.
Ukraine has not officially claimed responsibility, but has indicated it was behind the attack.
Satellite images show devastation at a Russian airfield in occupied Crimea following an attack on Tuesday, when 13 warplanes were wrecked.
The specifics of the attack are unclear – Ukraine has apparently refrained from taking responsibility, although its air force posted a gleeful image of the planes destroyed on Thursday.
Russia has said the damage was caused by an accident and that it did not destroy anything significant, a claim denied by imagery from multiple sources.
Along with the plane, at least three buildings appeared to have been destroyed at the Saki naval airport in Crimea, the peninsula that Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Satellite images from Planet Labs give a before and after picture of Saki – the left image is from Tuesday, while the right image shows the base the next day.
The disadvantage appears to be a mix of Su-30 and Su-24 jets, both of which have been used by Russia’s Air Force for decades. The Su-24 is intended for precision strikes on ground targets, the Su-30 being a fighter intended to engage other aircraft.
Commenting on the images, Elliot Higgins, founder of the open-source intelligence group Bellingcat, noted “Very large potholes, many destroyed aircraft, and destroyed buildings.”
“From what I can tell a lot of aircraft and gunpowder flew into one area, causing the fire to spread throughout the base, although the only damage that is visible from that fire is a lot of burnt grass,” They said,
“I can’t think of a time when Russia has lost so many air assets in one day in recent memory, and they should be deeply concerned about Ukraine’s ability to carry out similar attacks elsewhere, ” he has written,
Damage estimates vary depending on the imagery. Open-source analyst Oliver Alexander tweeted this estimate,
Oryx, a project documenting Russian military losses, At least nine planes were estimated to have been destroyed.,
On-the-ground footage from the scene, Verified by The New York TimesOne shows the burnt remains of a Su-24:
Ukraine has not formally claimed it as an attack, with its defense ministry saying Tuesday that it “could not determine the cause of the explosion”, The Times reported.
However, an anonymous official told the Washington Post That Ukrainian special forces were responsible.
Politico. asked by If the blasts can be considered part of Ukraine’s counter-offensive in Crimea, an anonymous official said: “You could say that’s it.”
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said he aims to eventually reclaim Crimea, the first tranche of Ukrainian territory seized by Russia eight years before the 2022 mass offensive.
Without mentioning the Saki airfield, Zelensky said: “Crimea is Ukrainian and we will never leave it,” the BBC reported.
“We will not forget that the Russian war against Ukraine began with the annexation of Crimea,” he said, according to the BBC. “This Russian war … began with Crimea and must end with Crimea – with its liberation.”
Meanwhile, Russia has not pointed a finger at Ukraine and attributed the explosions only to an “explosion” during which “multiple aviation weapons exploded.”
Washington DC-based military think tank Institute for the Study of War Said This was likely because Russia is unwilling to admit that its defense failed miserably to allow Ukraine to withdraw such an attack.
“The Kremlin has little incentive to accuse Ukraine of carrying out an attack that caused damage because such an attack would demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Russian air defense systems,” the institute wrote.
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