Smoke rises from explosions at Russia’s Saki airbase on the western coast of occupied Crimea, Ukraine, August 9, 2022 (AP)


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Wednesday’s Coverage: Ukrainian Forces Strike a Russian Airbase in Crimea


Source: Institute for the Study of War


UPDATE 1501 GMT:

The Ukrainian nuclear energy company Energoatom says Russian forces have again fired shells on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power complex which the Russians occupy in southern Ukraine.

Energoatom said the Russians fired five shells in the area of ​​the commandant’s office, next to the welding area and a storage facility for radiation sources. Five others landed in the area of ​​the fire department.

The company assured that the Ukrainian staff had not left the power plant.

Earlier today Russian officials maintained that the Ukrainian military fired on the complex, occupied in the initial days of Moscow’s invasion and used as a base to attack Ukrainian cities and towns across the Dnipro River.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement, “I am calling on the military forces of the Russian Federation and Ukraine to immediately cease all military activities in the immediate vicinity of the plant and not to target its facilities or surroundings.”


UPDATE 1132 GMT:

There have been several explosions overnight at the Ziabrauka airfield in Russia’s ally Belarus, north of Ukraine.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry claims that the blasts occurred when one of their pieces of equipment malfunctioned and caught fire during engine testing.

However, beyond speculation that the incident is connected with Ukraine’s attack on Russia’s airbase in Crimea, observers are considering the possibility of retaliation for this week’s conviction of five Belarusian activists.

The activists were accused of sabotage of Belarusian railways, used by Russian forces, in the opening days of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Belarus announced joint military drills with Russia in Belarus from August 9 to 11 and in Russia from August 22 to 25.

Russian media are also reporting a fire at a military base near Moscow. Conscripts and other staff were evacuated.


UPDATE 0923 GMT:

The latest Russian attacks across the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine have killed 11 civilians and injured 8 others.

Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said six civilians were killed in Bakhmut, three in Soledar, and one each in Krasnohorivka and Avdiivka.

In south-central Ukraine, two civilians were killed and seven, including a 13-year-old girl, injured in the Dnipropetrovsk region.

Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said at least 40 high-rise buildings, three schools, a number of vehicles, and local shops were damaged.


UPDATE 0656 GMT:

UK military intelligence assesses, “Russia is highly unlikely to be capable of fulfilling some export orders for armoured fighting vehicles because of the exceptional demand for vehicles for Russia’s own forces in Ukraine and the increasing effect of Western sanctions.”

The analysts say Belarus is pursuing a domestically upgraded T-72B main battle tank as an alternative to those made in Russia.

The report summarizes, “Russia has long considered the defence industry to be one of its most important export successes. However, its military industrial capacity is now under strain, and the credibility of many of its weapons systems has been undermined by their association with Russian forces’ poor performance in the Ukraine war.”


UPDATE 0625 GMT:

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged the European Union to impose a travel ban on Russian tourists.

Zelenskiy said in an interview with the Washington Post that the “most important sanction” is to “close the borders, because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land”.

The Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have already restricted visas for Russians. Estonia and Finland leaders are calling on other European countries to halt visas.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tweeted on Tuesday:

The EU intends to consider the subject at an informal meeting of interior ministers later this month.


ORIGINAL ENTRY: Satellite images confirm that at least Russian warplanes were destroyed in Tuesday’s attack on Moscow’s airbase in occupied Crimea in southern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s military said on Wednesday that nine Russian aircraft were lost in the large explosions that engulfed the Saki base on the western coast of Crimea, seized by Russia in 2014.

The before-and-after images — taken at about 8 a.m. on Tuesday, four hours before the attack, and about 4:40 p.m. on Wednesday, back up that statement. They show the charred remains of multiple jet fighters and damage to the runway in widespread areas of scorched earth.

A satellite photo showed 43 Russian warplanes on the base, with video of at least one Su-24 attack aircraft destroyed.

Kyiv has not officially claimed responsibility for the attack, but senior Ukrainian military officers have said — referring either to a missile strike or to sabotage — “A device exclusively of Ukrainian manufacture was used.”

The Russian Defense Ministry insists that the explosions were caused by the detonation of “several aviation munitions” and that no warplanes were damaged.

Eliot Higgins of the investigative website Bellingcat said, “One way to interpret those craters [in the satellite images] is precise strikes from a long range munition.” The craters are “about 20-25 meters wide…which would mean a pretty big munition”.

Assessing the images, some analysts have surmised that Ukraine used long-range missiles. Others, such as Justin Bronk of the London-based Royal United Services Institute, assess that “Ukrainian special forces carried out the attack by infiltrating close enough to the base to launch and guide in small UAVs [drones] or loitering munitions, to hit either parked aircraft or fuel trucks/storage”.