A Ukrainian government official revealed that units of the Ukrainian special forces attacked a “Russian air base” in the Crimea, while satellite images indicate “great damage” to the base as a result of the attack.
A Ukrainian government official said, on Wednesday, that the powerful attack on a Russian air base in the occupied Crimea was the work of Ukrainian special forces, according to statements to the “Washington Post”.
This statement indicates an increasingly important role for secret forces operating deep in enemy lines, as part of “expanding efforts to expel Russian forces from Crimea,” according to the “Washington Post.”
At least three explosions rocked the Saki air base on Tuesday in a coastal region of Crimea, which Moscow captured in 2014, a popular holiday destination for Russians.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Ukrainian Air Force announced the destruction of nine Russian military aircraft at the base, noting that “Moscow used the base to launch missile strikes on the territory under Ukrainian control.”
For its part, the Russian authorities said that the munitions stored at the site exploded, and denied destroying any aircraft, but the images published by the Planet Labs satellite imaging company, show at least three explosive craters in the areas where the planes stopped near the runways, according to a report. For The New York Times.
Satellite images showed the destruction of at least eight warplanes, indicating a costly and serious strike on the Russian military, contrary to the Kremlin’s account, according to the New York Times.
Repercussions of the attack on Russia
The attack represents a major turnaround in the nearly six-month-old war, demonstrating a new ability for Ukrainian forces to launch attacks behind Russian lines, according to the Washington Post.
If confirmed, what happened would be “the largest daily loss for the Russian Air Force since the beginning of the war,” and the attack could reduce Russia’s ability to carry out missile strikes against Ukrainian cities, in the short term, according to the Washington Post.
The founder and director of the investigative website Bellingcat, Elliot Higgins, noted that “Russia has never lost so many air assets in a single day,” in a series of tweets on his Twitter account.
“I can identify three craters in locations that appear to be used for storage,” he said, adding, “One way to interpret those craters is precision strikes from long-range munitions.”
The attack will have a profound impact on Russia’s long-term ability to maintain control over southern Ukraine, especially Kherson Province, where Ukrainian forces hope to launch a counterattack to reclaim territory, according to the Washington Post.
Since seizing the peninsula, Russia has “militarized Crimea” and used it as a vital springboard for military operations since its broader invasion of Ukraine on February 24, according to the New York Times.
And if Crimea comes under more attacks, Russia will have to guard part of Ukraine, which could hinder its progress in the south of the country.
Commenting on this, former Ukrainian Defense Minister Andrei Zagorodnyuk said that this may hinder Russia’s ability to reinforce and supply its forces in the south.
He added that the attack made the Russians feel “unsafe in Crimea”, after they thought it was far from the Ukrainian attacks, according to his statements to the “Washington Post”.
Ukrainian forces behind Russian lines
Kyiv officially refused to “confirm or deny the involvement of Ukrainians in the attack,” but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his night speech, Tuesday, focused on Crimea, and promised to recover it from the Russians.
“Crimea is Ukrainian and we will never abandon it,” he said, without mentioning the air base or the attack, according to AFP.
Some military experts believe that the attack was carried out by “drones”, which were operated by secret forces in a location close to the air base.
Another possibility refers to “the planting of explosives by secret forces at key points in the air base,” according to experts, according to the “Washington Post”.
Hints by Ukrainian officials about the “involvement of special operations forces in the attack” came to highlight the activities of the so-called “national resistance”, whom Ukrainians call “rebels”, according to the “Washington Post”.
These forces are made up of “trained soldiers and local sympathizers”, and their activities are aimed at disrupting Russia’s logistical, leadership and administrative capabilities.
These forces have recently strengthened their activities, led by the Special Operations Forces and the Army of Ukraine, according to the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov.
Andrey Zagorodnyuk said that the Ukrainian resistance will play an important role in complementing the conventional capabilities of the Ukrainian armed forces, according to the “Washington Post”.
Ukraine has used special operations forces and local supporters to attack other targets in Russian-controlled areas, according to the New York Times, citing Ukrainian officials.
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