The shameful loss has made the Russian military very cautious at one of Putin’s most important outposts.

A still image acquired by Reuters on August 9, 2022.

Smoke rises after an explosion at a Russian air force base near Novofedryvka in Crimea on August 9.Reuters

  • Russian military installations in Crimea have been hit by a series of explosions over the past two weeks.

  • Ukraine has not been formally credited, but officials have suggested it was involved in the blast.

  • Russia has not formally condemned Ukraine, but has become more cautious with its forces around Crimea.

A series of events over the past two weeks have rocked military outposts in Russian-occupied Crimea.

On August 9, there were several large explosions at the Saky airbase in western Crimea, about 130 miles south of the front lines of the war.

The air base mainly houses the air forces of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which is headquartered in nearby Sevastopol, and is the site of explosions. Destroy or wreck at least 8 Russian aircraft.

At the time, Russia claimed the explosion was an accident.But the evidence is that they Consequences of the Ukrainian attack.

fireworks crimea explosion

Smoke rises after an August 16 explosion in the Dzhankoy district of northern Crimea.Video stills obtained by Reuters

On August 16, a Russian military ammunition depot exploded in the village of Maiskoye near the city of Zhankoy in northern Crimea.according to british ministry of defensea nearby railway and substation were also damaged.

Dzhankoy is an important road and railway junction connecting Crimea with the rest of Ukraine. He is also one of the peninsula’s major airfields nearby.

On the same day, smoke was reportedly seen rising from another key outpost, the Gvardeiskoe air base in central Crimea. However, satellite imagery surveyed by the Defense Agency, The War Zone, shows: no visible damage to the base or its aircraft, or other indications of attack.

taking a defensive posture

People on a beach in smoke and flames after an explosion at the Russian military air base in Novofedryvka, Crimea, on August 9, 2022.

Bathers watch smoke and flames rise after an explosion at an air force base in Novofedryvka, Crimea, on August 9.Reuters/Correspondent

The incident prompted Russia to return at least 24 jets and 14 helicopters to Russia or move them to bases deep in Crimea to protect them. Ukrainian intelligence agency.

Keeping these assets away from the front lines could make it more difficult for Russia to use them to support operations in Ukraine.

The eight aircraft lost at Sarkie are a minority of the total number Russia has committed to the conflict, but their losses further reduce the lost Black Sea Fleet capabilities. Its flagship Moskva in April.

The UK Ministry of Defense said the fleet’s surface ships remained “in a highly defensive posture, with patrols generally confined to within-visibility waters off the coast of Crimea”. Said August 16th.

Satellite image showing several aircraft and buildings destroyed at Russia's Saki airbase in Crimea on August 10, 2022

Satellite image of destroyed aircraft and buildings at Russia’s Saky airbase in Crimea on August 10.planet lab

Although the fleet continues to conduct long-range missile attacks against Ukrainian targets, its “limited effectiveness is limited to Russia’s overall Ukraine can move its troops elsewhere because it undermines a strategic aggression strategy,” the ministry added.

Asked about the blast at a news conference on Aug. 19, a US defense official said, “We’re looking at the big picture that the Russian military is far more vulnerable than we thought, and as a result we’re looking at the movements of the Russian military.” ‘ said. protect their abilities. ”

Recent events have also affected the morale and sense of security of Russians in Crimea. Thousands of civilians, many of them vacationers, appeared to have left the peninsula after the explosion at Saky Air Force Base.

This “proves that the absolute majority of citizens of terrorist states already understand, or at least feel, that Crimea is not their place,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. said. Said August 16, referring to Russian settlers who moved to Crimea after Moscow annexed it in 2014.

Importance of Crimea

2022 map of Crimea

Crimea has been a valuable Black Sea outpost for map

Crimea has become a key support area for Russia’s current offensive against Ukraine.

The Southern Invasion, launched on 24 February, advanced from Crimea into mainland Ukraine, capturing Kherson and establishing the Southern Front. Russia also uses Crimea’s roads and railways to reinforce and resupply its forces in southern and southeastern Ukraine.

Crimea’s military and political importance to Moscow predates the current war.

On the peninsula is Sevastopol, which has the most developed naval base in the Black Sea has been Main base It has been used for the Russian Black Sea Fleet since the fleet and city was founded in 1783.

In 1957, control of the peninsula was transferred from Russia to Ukraine. Both were part of the Soviet Union at the time.After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Crimea remained in Ukraine, and Ukraine leased the Sevastopol base to Moscow 1997.


Russian warships rehearse for the Navy Day parade in Sevastopol on July 24, 2015.Pavel Levrov/Reuters

2010 Ukraine and Russia agreed To extend its lease until at least 2042, however, Russian politicians have repeatedly expressed frustration at Ukraine’s continued control of the peninsula.

President Vladimir Putin after annexation in 2014 declared “In our hearts, we know that Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia.”

The main reason for the annexation was to ensure continued military access to Sevastopol. She is one of the few warm water ports in Russia and can improve the activities of the Black Sea Fleet. project power over an areaControl of Crimea Allows Russia restrict access To the Sea of ​​Azov, which borders Ukraine.

There are other ports and airfields on the peninsula, such as Dzhankoy and Gvardeiskoe. Developed and modernized Since 2014.

Ukrainian officials have expressed their determination to retake the peninsula, and recent incidents demonstrate Kyiv’s growing ability and desire to strike Russia in what Moscow believed was a safe haven. there is a possibility.

Vladimir Putin Black Sea Navy missile test

President Putin boards the Russian guided-missile cruiser Marshall Ustinov in Sevastopol on January 9, 2020.Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters

Moreover, Washington appears to increasingly support Ukraine’s attacks on Russians in Crimea.

Early July, senior U.S. defense official Said Russian forces in Crimea were “absolutely legitimate targets,” reporters said.Biden administration officials this month told Politico There are no limits to Kyiv’s attacks on Russians in occupied Ukrainian territory, the official added, adding that “Crimea is Ukraine.”

On August 10, Zelensky said that Russia’s “war against Ukraine, against the whole of free Europe, must begin in Crimea and end there with its liberation.”

“At the moment we don’t know when this will be, but we are always adding the necessary elements to the Crimean liberation formula,” Zelensky said. “The Black Sea region will not be safe as long as Crimea is occupied.”

Constantine Atlamazoglou works on transatlantic and European security. He holds a master’s degree in security studies and European affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and can contact him LinkedIn.

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