Russia's Defense Ministry on Tuesday confirmed a rare act of what appears to be a Ukrainian sabotage operation in Crimea. This after video emerged online showing a series of explosions after a fire engulfed a munitions depot there.
"On the morning of Aug. 16, as a result of an act of sabotage, a military storage facility near the village of Dzhankoi was damaged," the ministry said. "Damage was caused to a number of civilian facilities, including power lines, a power plant, a railway track as well as a number of residential buildings. There were no serious injuries," it added.
🚨BREAKING: Ukraine appears to be launching additional attacks on Crimea.— Clint Ehrlich (@ClintEhrlich) August 16, 2022
The U.S. has provided them with long-range strike capabilities that make this possible.
Are we ready for the blowback? 🚨 pic.twitter.com/hRROPIEyAp
The incident happened near the Crimean village of Mayskoye in the Dzhankoi district. Two civilians were reportedly injured, but local reports said they were not life-threatening injuries.
Russian state media reported that some 2,000 residents of area villages had to be evacuated as a result of the huge fire and billowing thick black smoke that resulted. The depot has been referenced in local media as a "temporary military storage site". According to BBC:
Crimea's Russian-installed authorities have declared an "emergency situation" in the north of the occupied peninsula following explosions at a military base in Dzhankoi District, according to Interfax news agency.
"We are in an emergency situation regime," the Russian news agency quoted regional head Sergei Aksyonov as saying.
Interfax says the move "expands the boundaries of the emergency situation regime" following its introduction in the west of the peninsula after an explosion at an air base there earlier in August.
Various circulating social media videos purporting to show the explosion aftermath appear to confirm there were munitions stored at the depot.
Importantly, this comes after a bigger Aug. 9 explosion some 200km inside Crimea at Russia's Saky air base, in Novofedorovka. That attack, which destroyed multiple Russian jets, vehicles, and an ammo depot, has been subject of intense speculation as Ukraine's government sent mixed signals in terms of taking responsibility.
Video of the Aug. 9 Saky air base explosion:
Huge explosion at the military airport in Novofedorivka in Russian-occupied Crimea. About 200km (over 120 miles) from the frontline.pic.twitter.com/8POh6yNhmq— Ostap Yarysh (@OstapYarysh) August 9, 2022
On an official level, the Ukrainian government denied it was behind the earlier Crimea base attack, but officials leaked to both The Washington Post and New York Times that it was a sabotage operation by Ukraine's special forces.
Moscow had in the immediate aftermath downplayed it as an accident, perhaps seeking to avoid escalation, also possibly not wanting to acknowledge it was vulnerable to such a strike from Ukraine.
So this fresh Aug.16 "sabotage attack" strongly suggests the prior Aug.9 explosion was also a Ukrainian operation. The incident had also set off discussion over whether US-supplied HIMARS rockets could reach that far. If indeed there were foreign weapons systems behind it, it could set the US and Russia on a dangerous path of escalation and collision as the proxy war could fast develop into direct confrontation between superpowers in Ukraine.