The military airfield in Belarus where Russian aircraft are said to be stationed has reportedly been hit by explosions.
Citing eyewitnesses, the Belarusian Hajun project, a social media channel that follows the Ukrainian war, tweeted there had been “at least eight explosions” overnight on Wednesday near the airfield in Ziabrovka, in the Gomel region.
The Belarusian defense ministry denied any blasts took place, saying that at around 11 p.m. local time “a vehicle caught fire after its engine was replaced” and that no one was injured.
But the Hajun Project tweeted what it said was a video of one of the blasts filmed at a distance of 16 miles from the airfield that “shows a large flash” that “doesn’t look like an ‘engine fire.'”
Satellite images taken at the end of June have indicated the presence of Russian military equipment at Ziabrovka, which borders Ukraine’s Chernihiv region. Belarusian journalists have also tracked the movement of such equipment since spring, independent Russian-language news outlet Meduza reported.
On July 7, Ukrainian armed forces said that Belarus had transferred the airfield to Russia and “measures are being taken to equip the Russian military base” there.
The Belarusian Ministry of Defense previously reported that live-fire exercises would be held from August 9 to August 25, although the exact locations were not named and it is not clear if the explosions are connected with them, Meduza added.
Franak Viačorka, a senior advisor to Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, tweeted there had been “at least eight explosions” at the airfield near the Ukrainian border where “Russian military aircraft are often stationed.”
He added, “so far, there is no confirmation if these explosions are connected to any military drills conducted by the Russian and Belarus armies on Belarus territory.”
Ukraine suggested that the reported blasts could have been carried out by Belarusians who were supporting Kyiv’s forces.
Yuriy Ignat, the spokesperson of the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, told Belsat TV: “We know that they are extremely kind and intelligent people who are already helping our state…extremely well.”
“And we just thank the brotherly Belarusian people, who will help Ukraine defeat the occupiers and kick them out of our land. And from yours, too,” Yuriy Ignat added, according to the Hajun project.
Newsweek reached out to the Belarusian foreign ministry and Russian defense ministry for comment.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who held onto power despite a 2020 election internationally condemned as fraudulent, has relied on Vladimir Putin to keep him in office. He has allowed the Russian military to use his country’s territory to launch attacks on Ukraine since the beginning of Putin’s invasion on February 24.
Tsikhanouskaya said this week that soon after the war started, Belarusians engaged in acts of sabotage against important Russian supply routes.
“Rail partisans slowed down military transport and information was given to Ukrainian forces about bases from which Russian missiles were fired,” Tsikhanouskaya told German news agency DPA. She said that Belarusians would put up a strong resistance against any attempt for Lukashenko to drag the country into full participation in the war.
“Our partisan movement will sabotage this,” she told the outlet. “Orders will be refused.”
It is not the first Russian airbase to reportedly come under attack this week. On Tuesday, the Saki air base in Russian-occupied Crimea was attacked. Kyiv has not publicly claimed responsibility, but Ukrainian armed forces mocked Russia for the attack.
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