A new phase of the war: Fires and explosions in Russia and Crimea, missiles on Kharkiv

Explosions at a weapons storage facility at a Russian military base in Belgorod, bordering Ukraine, and two explosions in the occupied Crimean peninsula have prompted media talk of a new phase of the war in which Ukraine strikes Russian targets. At the same time, the Russian army is trying desperately to attack in the southern Donbas and is hitting the second largest city in Ukraine – Kharkiv in the North with missiles. The “targets” hit by Russian missiles are educational institutions and residential blocks, and in two days of strikes there are dozens of civilians. This morning there were also rocket attacks on Kramatorsk, where the state offices of the Donbas region were moved after the occupation of part of it in 2014.

On the evening of August 18, in the occupied Crimea, explosions took place at the largest Russian air force base “Belbek”, located in the northwestern part of Sevastopol. Witnesses heard at least two explosions near Belbek airport. Later, a Russian Emergencies Ministry vehicle was sent there. A little later, a video purporting to be from Belbek appears on the web. The footage shows a fire, sounds of explosions and air raid alarms can be heard.

The so-called governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, stated that a drone was supposedly shot down over Belbek. Belbek Airport is the largest Russian occupation airbase in the temporarily occupied Crimea.

At the same time, the Russian news agency TASS reported that a Ukrainian drone was shot down on Thursday near Kerch, in the easternmost part of Crimea. “According to preliminary data, a Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down at a great distance from the Crimean bridge. There were no casualties or damage,” Vladimir Rogov, who is a member of the main council of the military-civil administration of the nearby Zaporozhye region, wrote in “Telegram”.

The press service of the Kerch administration said that first a sound similar to thunder was heard there, and witnesses spoke of two explosions, reports BTA.

The Crimean bridge was built by Moscow after the annexation of the peninsula on the personal initiative of Putin, who personally opened it while driving a cargo truck.

Fires and explosions were also reported at two ammunition depots in Russia’s Belgorod region, bordering Ukraine. The authorities are investigating the causes of the fires near the villages of Timonovo and in Staraya Nelidovka.

There were no casualties in both fires, but the population was evacuated, reported the Russian Interfax news agency.

At the beginning of the week, the adviser to the Ukrainian president Mykhailo Podoliak stated in an interview with the British “Guardian” that Kyiv will bet on strikes in the occupied territories in the coming months as part of its counter-offensive.

President Volodymyr Zelensky recently said that Ukraine aims to liberate Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

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