Nine Russian Warplanes Destroyed in Crimea Blasts, Kyiv Claims

Nine Russian warplanes were destroyed in the deadly string of explosions that hit the Saki air base in Crimea on Tuesday, Ukraine’s air force said, fueling the speculation the blasts were the result of a Ukrainian attack.

Crimea’s health department informed that one person was killed in the blasts, while 14 others were injured.

Considering that would represent a significant escalation in the war, Ukrainian officials stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility for the explosions while Russia denied any aircraft were damaged in Tuesday’s blasts.

As a matter of fact, ruling out the idea of an attack from Ukraine Moscow denied that any attack took place. According to the official statement issued by Russia’s Defense Ministry, the incident was caused by the detonation of munitions, used in aviation, that were stored at the site.

Officials explained that the blasts occurred near the city of Novofedorovka on the coast of Crimea, and the Saki air base is on the outskirts of the city where some personnel lives.

Since Crimea rejoined Russia in 2014, the Russian navy has been using the airfield – which was a training center for pilots of aircraft carrier jets during Soviet times – to train pilots and as home to Russia’s Black Sea Attack Regiment.

While Kyiv was mocking Russia’s explanation for the series of explosions, it has left military analysts wondering what could have struck the site.

Though Saki base lies far beyond the range of US missiles supplied to Ukraine – including the HIMARs multiple rocket launcher – some analysts believe the Ukrainians could have stricken the base using anti-ship missiles.

According to the US defense analyst Chuck Pfarrer, Ukrainian troops have most likely used the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACM,), a weapon that has a range of 300km but that the US has not yet officially supplied to Ukraine.