A mushroom cloud erupted in the sky after an attack on a Russian airbase in Crimea left tourists running for their lives.
Amid speculation that the facility had been hit by Ukrainian missiles in the nation’s first strike, President Zelensky vowed they would “never abandon” the annexed region.
Shocking footage shows the aftermath of the blasts that devastated a Su-24M fighter jet and a number of vehicles at the military base.
The engines were completely charred by the flames that followed the series of explosions around 3:30 p.m. local time.
Up to 15 explosions are said to have hit the Saki airbase near Novofedorivka on the west coast of the peninsula.
Frightened Russian tourists were seen frantically rushing from beaches during Tuesday’s eruptions.
Ukrainian social networks have been buzzing with speculation that it has been hit by the country’s long-range missiles.
One of Kiev’s military officials told the New York Times that the country’s armed forces launched the attack.
A team of saboteurs were suspected of attacking Russian warplanes stationed at the airfield – 200 miles from frontline positions.
And the President of Ukraine only nurtured theories that his military staged the shelling, firmly telling the world that Crimea would be liberated from Russian occupation.
He said the war in the region “began” when Russia annexed Crimea, before stressing “we will never give it up”.
Zelenskyi added: “Russia has turned our peninsula – which has always been and always will be one of the best places in Europe – into one of the most dangerous places.”
Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied an air missile attack on the airfield, but warned: “This is just the beginning.”
But Russia’s state news agency Tass quoted an unidentified Defense Ministry source as saying the blasts were caused by a breach of fire safety regulations and no fighter jets were damaged.
The nation claimed the blasts were caused by munitions explosions, but this was criticized even by pro-Moscow sources.
Statements appeared from Ukraine aimed at confusing the enemy.
Her defense ministry said sacrosanctly that it “could not determine the cause of the fire,” and warned Russians about the dangers of “smoking in unspecified places.”
One person was killed and nine injured in the chaos, Russian authorities in Crimea said.
Bystanders also claimed a fire engulfed the military base’s runway, while nearby homes were also said to have been damaged.
During the war, Russia reported numerous fires and explosions in ammunition dumps on its territory near the Ukrainian border, attributing some of them to the Kiev Armed Forces.
However, the Ukrainian authorities have remained mostly silent on the incidents, maintaining an ambiguous stance and not taking responsibility.
At least a dozen explosions of varying intensity could be heard, and huge plumes of smoke could be seen on a clip from the crime scene.
A local said: “It banged so loud we were deaf.”
Another said: “Something is burning in Novofedorivka. There are some explosions when it burns.”
Video from the decimated site shows the damaged fighter jet and a car that appears to have been impaled on a metal pole as a result of the explosion.
Oleg Kryuchkov, adviser to Vladimir Putin’s thugs in the region, said: “So far I can only confirm the fact of several explosions in the Novofedorivka area.
“I ask everyone to wait for official reports and not to invent new versions.”
Russia has turned our peninsula, which has always been and always will be one of the best places in Europe, into one of the most dangerous places.
The head of the pro-Moscow regime, Sergei Aksyonov, said he was on his way to the scene of the crime yesterday to assess the damage.
Ambulances and air ambulances have been dispatched to the scene and information about any casualties is still being sought, the region’s health ministry said.
Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and used the region as a base for its attacks on Ukraine, but it has rarely been a target for Ukrainian forces.
It remains under Russian control but has not experienced the intense bombing and artillery combat that has taken place in other areas of eastern and southern Ukraine.
At least three people were injured in the explosions, Russian media reported.
Among them were a 13-year-old boy with a cut on his forearm and a pensioner with a shrapnel wound.
Russian firefighters were kept away from the blasts, sources said, although it’s not clear why.
Aksyonov announced an evacuation and a 5 km containment zone around the blasts, confirming that they were at a military airfield.
CHAOS IN CRIMEA
“Ambulance crews and medical aviation work on site, there are enough of those,” he said. “It’s too early to talk about the victims.
“No one among the civilian population has asked medical institutions for help.”
About 30 people were evacuated from houses near the airfield.
About 15 explosions were reported in 30 minutes in the barrage.
Explosions could still be heard in the background.
The 43rd Fighter Aviation Regiment of the PKS of Russia is currently based at the airfield, consisting mainly of Su-30SM, Su-33 aircraft and Su-24M bombers.
A source from the Russian Defense Ministry denied the incoming rocket fire, claiming: “Around 3:20 p.m., aircraft munitions detonated at Saki airfield near the village of Novofedorovka on a debris dump.
“No one was injured by the explosion. No aviation equipment at the airfield was damaged.
“Measures are being taken to extinguish the resulting fire and to investigate the cause of the explosion.
“According to the site report, there was no fire impact on the collapsed ammunition storage area at the airfield.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5963134/mushroom-cloud-erupts-at-russian-base-ukrainian-strike-crimea/ Mushroom cloud erupts at Russian base after ‘first Ukrainian missile attack’ in Crimea sends tourists fleeing beach