Huge explosions at Russian military training grounds and vehicle repair facility in the Kirovske district of the annexed Crimean peninsula have fueled speculation that Ukraine struck the base with Storm Shadow missiles.
The Kremlin-installed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, said a fire broke out at a military training ground and that more than 2,000 residents were being evacuated. Russian Telegram channels linked to Russian security services reported multiple blasts at the base, but Aksyonov didn’t elaborate on the cause of the fire.
Although Ukraine hasn’t claimed responsibility for an attack on the Crimea base, some Russian military bloggers and Telegram channels have suggested that Kyiv could have struck the facility using long-range Storm Shadow missiles.
In May, the United Kingdom donated the long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine ahead of its counteroffensive launched in early June to capture occupied Russian territory. Fabian Hoffmann, a missile technology expert, tweeted in May that the missiles have the potential to strike the Kerch Strait Bridge—Russia’s sole link to annexed Crimea, which Ukraine hopes to recapture in a counteroffensive.
There’s a vehicle park, in Novostepne a mile south of Dzhankoi in Russian-occupied northern Crimea, where Russian forces fighting in southern Ukraine send their damaged vehicles for repair.
According to Russian sources, a British-made Storm Shadow cruise missile, fired by a Ukrainian air force Sukhoi Su-24 bomber, was responsible for the blast.
How many vehicles were at the site at the moment of the Ukrainian strike is unclear. How many vehicles the strike destroyed also is unclear.
In the best-case scenario for Ukraine, a single cruise missile may have destroyed a hundred or more vehicles, inflicting nearly as much damage on Russian forces as the entire Ukrainian southern command has inflicted in the seven weeks since it launched its long-anticipated counteroffensive in Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk Oblasts.
Even the worst-case scenario for Ukraine—minimal vehicle losses in Novostepne—still is good news. The strike at the very least should compel the Russians to disperse their logistical infrastructure in southern Ukraine, which would disrupt and slow vehicle repairs.
A billowing cloud of smoke and dust was, for residents of Crimea, the first evidence of the Monday strike. Russian sources soon confirmed the Ukrainian attack.
“Su-24 aircraft of the Ukrainian air force fired four Storm Shadow cruise missiles,” Mikhail Sergeevich Zvinchuk, a Russian author who writes under the name “Rybar,” explained on his popular Telegram channel.
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