At least 9 Russian military aircraft have been destroyed by several large explosions at the Saky military base in Novofedorivka on the western coast of Crimea, the Ukrainian Air Force said on Wednesday.
“Minus nine occupier aircraft,” the Air Force said in a Facebook post.
On August 9, Crimean, Russian media and local residents reported a series of powerful explosions at the Russian military airbase near Novofedorivka in Russian-annexed Crimea. One person died as a result of the explosions, said the so-called head of Crimea Aksyonov.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that “aviation ammunition detonated” at the Novofedorovka airbase, which led to explosions, and the equipment in the city was not damaged.
Multiple videos have emerged online, that appear to show multiple explosions and clouds emerging from the Saky military base in Novofedorivka, refuting Russian officials’ statement.
Russian tourists holidaying on beaches nearby could be seen leaving in fear. It is one of few occasions that the peninsula, occupied by Russia since 2014, has been directly affected by the latest fighting. Local people told one Russian news site that explosions went on for an hour.
Later, videos appear directly from the airbase, which shows a central apron of the Saki air base with burnt-out Su-24s and cars of the personnel of the base itself.
The Su-24 are normally located on the central apron of Saki air base.
My bet is on the darkest day in the history of the Russian Air Force. pic.twitter.com/camwivf2WL
— Julian Röpcke🇺🇦 (@JulianRoepcke) August 9, 2022
A reporter from one of Germany’s highest-circulating dailies Bild, Julian Ropcke, said that this incident became the most tragic in the history of the Russian Air Force.
“My bet is on the darkest day in the history of the Russian Air Force,” he said on Twitter.
Incredible amounts of damage at Novofedorivka airbase in Crimea. pic.twitter.com/ymFh7HUxDX
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) August 9, 2022
A Ukrainian military official with knowledge of the situation told The New York Times that Ukrainian forces were behind the explosion.
“This was an air base from which planes regularly took off for attacks against our forces in the southern theater,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military matters. The official would not tell the Times what type of weapon used in the attack, saying only that” a device exclusively of Ukrainian manufacture was used.”
According to The WarZone, Saki Air Base, which Russia occupied when it took over Crimea in 2014, is home to the Russian Navy’s 43rd Independent Naval Attack Aviation Regiment (43 OMShAP). This regiment flies 12 Su-30SMs, six Su-24Ms, and six Su-24MRs, and came to prominence during several encounters with NATO forces in the Black Sea in 2021.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) noted that the Kremlin has little incentive to accuse Ukraine of conducting strikes that caused the damage since such strikes would demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Russian air defense systems, which the Ukrainian sinking of the Moskva had already revealed.
“ISW does not yet have any basis independently to assess the precise cause of the explosions. The apparent simultaneity of explosions at two distinct facilities likely rules out the official Russian version of accidental fire, but it does not rule out either sabotage or long-range missile strike. Ukraine could have modified its Neptune missiles for land-attack use (as the Russians have done with both anti-shipping and anti-aircraft missiles), but there is no evidence to support this hypothesis at this time,” ISW reported.