With satellite images showing at least eight destroyed warplanes after explosions at a Russian airbase in Crimea, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Wednesday that Moscow’s mounting losses gave his leadership “a way out of the war.” should be prompted to search.
Images released Wednesday by satellite imaging company Planet Labs show at least three explosion craters in areas near the runways of Saki Air Base on the western Black Sea coast of Russian-held Crimea. Where the planes have gone black. Debris Russia downplayed the damage from Tuesday’s blasts, which a senior Ukrainian military official said were the result of an attack by Ukrainian forces and partisan fighters.
But with the images marking a costly and serious blow to the Russian military, Mr Zelensky referred to the incident for the first time in his nightly address, putting the number of missing Russian warplanes at nine.
“In just one day, the occupiers lost 10 warplanes: nine in Crimea and another in the direction of Zaporizhzhia,” he said on Wednesday night.
The New York Times reviewed satellite images of Saki Air Base, collected by Planet Labs in the hours before and a day after the explosions. The images show at least eight destroyed aircraft, both Su-24 and Su-30 fighter jets, all parked on the base’s western tarmac. The planes cost tens of millions of dollars.
In addition, two buildings near the aircraft are apparently destroyed, and extensive damage and burn marks can be seen elsewhere on the military base.
Other parts of the base appeared intact, including several helicopters and a large ammunition depot.
A senior Ukrainian official has said the blast was a pro-backed attack, but was not specific, and the Ukrainian military has not publicly acknowledged involvement. Military analysts have said that Ukraine does not have missiles that can reach a base more than 100 miles from territory it controls, and that Ukrainian jets are unlikely to penetrate that far into Russian-controlled airspace. was not.
The Russian Ministry of Defense downplayed the extent of the damage, saying that there were no casualties or damage to any equipment in the shelling explosion.
But witness reports of multiple explosions at the base — and videos and photos posted on social media showing plumes of smoke rising from the scene and what appeared to be the jet’s nose cone — punctured the Kremlin’s narrative.
Yuri Podoliaka, a prominent pro-Russian military blogger known for posting daily updates from the front lines, called the blasts “an act of reckless sabotage.”
“What did the commanders of this military unit think?” He posted A video post. “I have a lot of questions for the commanders of these Air Force regiments – how can you have this kind of munitions?”
At least one person was killed and more than a dozen injured, officials said. At least 62 apartment buildings and 20 commercial structures were damaged, Crimea’s Kremlin-appointed leader, Sergei Aksyonov, said on Wednesday. He declared a state of emergency and raised the terror threat level on the peninsula.
Since seizing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, Russia has heavily militarized it, using it as a key jumping-off point for military operations since its February 24 broad invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian forces are capable of conducting guerilla operations there.
Christoph Kotel And Ivan Nechiporenko Cooperation reporting.