Crimea: Ukrainian attack caused explosion of ammunition depot

Pro-Russian officials in Crimea accused Ukraine on Saturday of blowing up an ammunition depot with drones, prompting the evacuation of the surrounding population and suspending rail traffic in the annexed peninsula.

The new attack comes days after an attack targeting the Kerch Bridge, the only such structure that links Crimea with Russia and is used exclusively to transport equipment to Russian troops on the Ukrainian front.

In early June, Kiev launched a counteroffensive to recapture the territories lost to Moscow, specifically claiming that it intended to reclaim Crimea, which Russia unilaterally annexed from its territory in 2014.

Speaking via videoconferencing at the Aspen Security Forum on Friday, Volodymyr Zelensky ruled that the Kerch bridge, which he said was built in violation of international law, should be “neutralised”.

– Drone attack –

“The ammunition depot exploded after an enemy drone attack in Krasnogvardeisky district,” Sergei Aksionov, the Moscow-elected governor of Crimea, said on Saturday.

“It has been decided to evacuate people living within a five kilometer radius. It has also been decided to stop rail traffic to reduce the risk,” he said.

The war in Ukraine: the situation on 21 July (AFP – Clea Peculiar, Valentin Rakovsky, Sophie Ramis)

Mr. Askionov did not specify the affected location, confining himself to the Krasnogvardeysky district located inland in the center of this Black Sea peninsula.

Road traffic on the Crimean bridge was also suspended due to Saturday’s attack, which was however quickly restored, pro-Russian officials announced on Telegram.

According to Mr. Aksionov, rail transport on the peninsula was disrupted “to reduce the risk”.

Officials later clarified that two trains headed from Moscow to Simferopol, the main city of Crimea, and another going in the opposite direction were stopped.

– Multiplication of attacks –

Ukrainian attacks, which are rarely claimed, have multiplied in recent weeks on the peninsula.

A Russian warship near the Kerch Bridge linking Crimea with Russia, July 17, 2023 (AFP/Archive - Stringer)
A Russian warship near the Kerch Bridge linking Crimea with Russia, July 17, 2023 (AFP/Archive – Stringer)

During the night from Sunday to last Monday, a Ukrainian attack damaged the Crimea bridge, which had already been damaged in a spectacular attack in October 2022.

Significant damage was caused to the road side of the structure using naval drones and two civilians passing by were killed.

A Russian warship near the Kerch Bridge linking Crimea with Russia, July 17, 2023

President Vladimir Putin immediately promised a “response” from his military, while also calling for “improved safety” of the work.

In addition to the still-intense fighting in eastern Ukraine following Russia’s exit from an international agreement on Ukrainian grain exports, this week was marked by a verbal escalation mainly regarding the Black Sea.

Moscow and Kiev have alternately warned ships sailing the Black Sea that they could be targeted if they approach enemy ports.

The governor of the Russian region of Belgorod, which borders Ukraine and is regularly the target of attacks, accused Kiev on Saturday of bombarding the village of Zauralevka with cluster munitions the day before.

Vyacheslav Gladkov said, “In the Belgorod region, 21 artillery and three cluster munitions from a multiple rocket launcher were fired (by the Ukrainian military) at the village of Zauralevka.”

The Russian military, on its part, announced that journalist Rotislav Jouravlev of the Russian news agency RIA Novosti was killed in Ukrainian shelling in the Zaporizhia region in the south of Ukraine on the same day.

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