Crimea ‘sabotage’ highlights Russia’s woes in Ukraine war

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Fire and ammunition exploded at a depot in Crimea on Wednesday, a day after the latest suspected Ukrainian attack on a military site on the Russia-annexed peninsula, underscoring the challenges facing Moscow..

The peninsula, captured by Russia in 2014, was once a safe base used by Moscow’s forces to launch attacks — and a staging ground for the start of the February 24 offensive. But in recent days, explosions at an air base in Crimea have destroyed several Russian planes and on Tuesday, munitions exploded..

Ukrainian officials have stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility, but President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday warned of Ukrainian attacks behind enemy lines after the most recent blasts, while accusing Russia of “sabotage”.

The speed of the attacks marks the latest setback for Moscow, which launched the offensive hoping to seize the capital Kiev and much of the country in a lightning strike but soon ran into stronger-than-expected resistance from Ukrainian forces.

As the war approaches the half-year mark, the parties are now engaged in pitched battles, largely village-to-town in the east of the country. Attacks in Crimea could open a new front that would mark a significant escalation of the war and expand Russia’s military resources.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense wrote on Twitter, “Russian commanders are likely to be concerned by the apparent deterioration in security in Crimea, which serves as a rear base area for the occupation.

But it was not clear whether the attacks in Crimea would break the stalemate, as Ukrainian and Russian forces clashed in a war that forced millions from their homes, disrupting food supplies around the world. and expressed concern about the occasional nuclear accident.

On Thursday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres plans to travel to Ukraine for a meeting with Zelenskiy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss withdrawing shipments of grain vital to feeding the world’s hungry.. They are also expected to talk about a possible fact-finding mission into the Russian-controlled Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which Moscow and Kyiv accuse each other of firing on.

Tuesday’s explosion and fire caused scenes of chaos when an ammunition depot near Zankoi in Crimea caught fire, forcing the evacuation of around 3,000 people.

In a stark reminder of Russia’s vulnerability in Crimea, the peninsula’s regional leader, Sergei Aksyonov, said authorities were still fighting the fire with helicopters on Wednesday, as minutes of explosions continued. He said that the search for the accused in the attack is on.

The Kommersant business paper reported the explosion at the base in Gvardescoye on Tuesday. As of Wednesday, there was still no comment from Russian officials.

A British intelligence report noted that Guardeyskoye and Zhankoye are “home to two of the most important Russian military airfields in Crimea.”

A week ago, Russia’s military on the peninsula came under pressure when Ukraine said nine Russian warplanes were downed following an explosion at Crimea’s Saki air base. These massive explosions sent plumes of smoke billowing over the nearby beaches and caused the sunbathers to flee.

At the time, Moscow suggested that the explosions were accidental, possibly caused by a careless smoker, an explanation that drew scoff from Ukrainian officials who hinted at their involvement in the attack but did not claim direct responsibility.

The dilemma continued on the Eastern FrontShooting causes more death and destruction.

In the Donetsk region, the current focus of the Russian offensive, recent Russian shelling of several towns and villages has killed two civilians and wounded seven others.

Meanwhile, to the south, a Russian long-range bomber fired cruise missiles into the Odesa region overnight, injuring four people, regional administration spokesman Oleh Brachuk said.

In Mykolayiv, in the south, two Russian missiles damaged a university building early Wednesday but did not injure anyone.

Russian forces shelled northeastern Kharkiv and various parts of the surrounding region overnight, damaging residential buildings and civilian infrastructure but causing no casualties.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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