Photo: REUTERS / Courtesy
Satellite images show significant damage and several Russian warplanes destroyed at a Crimean air base, following explosions on Tuesday.
The Saky base, located in western Crimea and ruled by Russia, was shaken by a series of explosions that caused the death of a person.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility, but this new evidence suggests the possibility of a targeted attack.
Images from US-based Planet Labs show large areas of burned land after the fires after the explosions.
The base’s main runways appear to be intact, but at least eight aircraft appear to be damaged and destroyed, with several craters clearly visible.
Most of them are in a specific area of the base where a large number of planes were parked outdoorsfar from the cover of the hangars.
Before and after satellite images:
Before and after pictures Planet Labswhich monitors hundreds of satellite feeds over Ukraine, are the first independent confirmation that the base may have suffered serious damage.
So far, details about the extent of the explosions’ impact have been scant.
Russia insists the detonations were caused by munitions that exploded in a store, due to flouting safety rules against fires.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility, with its defense minister suggesting careless Russian soldiers could be to blame.
“I think the Russian military at this airbase messed up their well-known rule: no smoking in dangerous placesOleksiy Reznikov said. “That is all”.
The Ukrainian air force said that about a dozen Russian fighter planes were destroyed, although Russia denied that any aircraft were affected. These new images suggest that is not true.
In his late-night speech on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that “the war in Ukraine began with Crimea and must end with its liberation.”
Zelensky did not mention the explosions, but said: “Crimea is Ukrainian and we will never deliver it.”
right to attack
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the fact that there were two separate explosions points to a attack instead of an accident. He also defended Ukraine’s right to attack Crimea.
“It is absolutely legit that Ukraine use lethal force, if necessary, to retake not only its territory, but also to push back its invader,” he told the BBC.
Any Ukrainian attack inside Crimea would be seen as an escalation of the war. Russia sounded a warning last month when former President Dmitry Medvedev said “judgment day will come” if Ukraine attacks Crimea.
Crimea is internationally recognized as part of Ukraine, but Russia annexed the peninsula mar Black in 2014. Many Ukrainians see this as the beginning of their war with Russia.
The annexation came after Ukraine’s then Russian-backed president was ousted after months of pro-European protests.
On February 24 this year, eight years after the annexation of Crimea, Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, using the peninsula as a springboard to move Russian troops deep into the Ukrainian interior.
Remember that you can receive notifications from BBC World. Download the new version of our app and activate it so you don’t miss out on our best content.