A series of large explosions have shaken the Novofedorivka Airbase in Russian-occupied Crimea, 200 kilometers behind the frontline of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Videos of the explosions were quickly circulated across Russian social media, with the local administration cordoning off the area.
— Michael A. Horowitz (@michaelh992) August 9, 2022
Some videos show the explosions happening in at least two separate areas and at a considerable distance from each other.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) August 9, 2022
The explosions have been geolocated to the Novofedorivka Airbase which was overtaken by the Russian military after the country occupied the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Satellite photos taken several days ago show large numbers of crates piled up on the airport premises, with its storage areas presumably used as an ammunition dump.
According to the Ukrainian military news website Militarny, the Novofedorivka base housed Sukhoi Su-30 and Su-33 fighter jets and Su-24M fighter bombers.
The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the first explosion happened at 3:20 PM MSK (12:20 GMT) on August 9, 2022, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
The ministry said the explosions were caused by the detonation of aircraft ordinance in the airport’s storage facility. There were no casualties and no aircraft were damaged, the ministry added.
“Efforts to extinguish the fire and to investigate the causes are being undertaken. The storage area was not targeted by an attack,” said an unnamed Defense Ministry spokesperson as reported by TASS.
The head of Russia’s occupational authorities in Crimea, Sergey Aksenov posted a video on Telegram, filmed not far from the explosions. In the footage, Aksenov says military and police forces closed-off an area five kilometers (three miles) around the airport, but no casualties of the explosions have so far been reported.
Meanwhile, Russian journalist and editor-in-chief of state-controlled media conglomerate RT, Margarita Simonyan posted statements saying that the explosions were allegedly a work of sabotage.
There have been no official statements from Ukrainian authorities or military regarding the attack.
According to an anonymous Ukrainian official interviewed by the New York Times, the attack was performed by Ukrainian Armed Forces using “a device exclusively of Ukrainian manufacture”.
If undertaken by the Ukrainian military, this is the first Ukrainian attack on Crimean soil since the peninsula was occupied by Russian forces in 2014.