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'It's liberation': Zelensky vows to retake Crimea

"This Russian war against Ukraine and against all of free Europe must begin and end in Crimea — its liberation."


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The Associated Press

The Associated Press

Susie Blann

Smoke rises after explosions were heard from the direction of a Russian military airbase near Novofedorivka, Crimea Aug. 9.
Explosion from direction of Russian air force base near Novofedryvka, Crimea, 9 August After hearing the sound, smoke rises. PHOTO BY STRINGER /REUTERS

The Ukrainian Air Force announced a massive explosion at a Ukrainian air base on Wednesday. said nine Russian fighter jets had been destroyed. Speculation is rife that it is the result of a Ukrainian offensive that could mean an escalation in the Crimean War.

Russia denied Tuesday's explosion damaged its aircraft or attacked it.

Ukrainian officials teased Russia's explanation that munitions at Saki Air Base caught fire and blew it up, while stressing the importance of the peninsula Moscow had annexed for eight years. did not go so far as to publicly claim responsibility for the explosion. in front.

In a nightly video address hours after the bombing, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to retake the peninsula, stating, "This Russian war against Ukraine, and against all of free Europe, It must begin in Crimea and end in Crimea. Its liberation.”

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  2. Massive explosion rocks Russian air base in Crimea

On Wednesday, Russian officials tried to downplay the blast, saying that all hotels on the peninsula, a popular tourist destination for many Russians, The blast, which killed one person and injured 13, caused tourists to flee in panic as smoke billowed over nearby shorelines. They knocked out windows and caused other damage in several apartment buildings.

Russian fighter jets used Saki to raid areas in southern Ukraine, and Ukrainian social networks were flooded with speculation that long-range Ukrainian-launched missiles hit the base.

Moscow officials have long warned Ukraine that any attack on Crimea would trigger massive reprisals, including attacks on the "decision-making center" in Kyiv.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arrestovich, more outspoken than other officials, said Tuesday that the explosion was either caused by a Ukrainian-made long-range weapon or was engineered. inexplicably said that it was Guerrilla in Crimea.

People stand next to a residential house destroyed by a Russian missile strike in the settlement of Kushuhum, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine Aug. 10.
People standing next to houses destroyed by Russian missile attacks The settlement of Kushhum, in the Zaporizhia region of Ukraine, following a Russian attack on Ukraine on August 10. Photo credit: STRINGER /REUTERS

Black Sea peninsula bases hanging south of Ukraine are at least 200 meters from the nearest Ukrainian position. km (about 125 miles) away and out of range of the missiles supplied by the United States for use in the HIMARS system.

Ukrainian forces successfully used these missiles, which have a range of 80 kilometers (50 miles), to target ammunition and fuel depots, strategic bridges, and other important targets in Russian-occupied territories. did. HIMARS can also launch long-range rockets with a range of up to 300 kilometers (about 185 miles) as requested by Ukraine.

But US officials have so far refrained from providing them, fearing they could provoke Russia and escalate the conflict. However, the explosion in Saki has sparked speculation on social media that Ukraine may have finally taken up arms.

Wheat grains are seen inside a storage damaged by a Russian missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Zaporizhzhia Region, Ukraine Aug. 5.
Wheat grains are seen inside a bunker damaged by a Russian missile attack. Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine, August 5, as Russia continues to attack Ukraine. Photo credit: STRINGER /REUTERS

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov The Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missile, which has a range of 100,000 psi, could have hit a Russian air base, said it could have been adapted for use against ground targets and could have been launched from positions in Ukraine north of Crimea. Near Mikolaiv in the west.

Ukrainian forces may also have used Western-supplied Harpoon anti-ship missiles, which can also be used against ground targets and have a range of approximately 300 kilometers (approximately 185 miles). he said.

"Kyiv officials are tight-lipped about it, but the military unofficially admits it was a Ukrainian attack," Zhdanov said. .

If Ukrainian forces were indeed responsible for the blast, it would be the first major attack on a Russian military installation in Crimea, which the Kremlin annexed in 2014. The Russian Black Sea Fleet, anchored in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, where there was a minor explosion at its headquarters last month, blamed Ukrainian saboteurs using makeshift drones.

During the war, Russia reported numerous fires and explosions at ammunition depots in its territory near the Ukrainian border, some of which it blamed on the Ukrainian strike. Ukrainian authorities have largely remained silent about the incident.

Military privately admits it was a Ukrainian attack

Meanwhile, Russian artillery fire Tuesday From the night of , to Wednesday, it attacked areas across Ukraine. In the central region of Dnipropetrovsk, 13 people were killed and 11 injured, said the region's governor, Valentyn Reznichenko.

Leznichenko said Russian troops opened fire on the city of Marganets and nearby villages. The shelling damaged dozens of homes, two schools, and several administrative buildings.

"It was a terrible night," Leznichenko said. "It is very difficult to get a body out from under the rubble. We are facing a brutal enemy who terrorizes our cities and villages every day."

Russian forces also continued to shell the nearby city of Nikopol across the Dnieper from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, occupied by Russia.

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of shelling Europe's largest nuclear power plant, fueling international fears of catastrophe.

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