KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A massive fire broke out at an oil depot in Crimea after two of Ukraine’s drones struck it, a Russian-appointed official said Saturday, the latest in a series of attacks on the Russian-annexed peninsula. for an expected Ukrainian counterattack.
Mikhail Rasvozhayev, the Moscow-based governor of the port city of Sevastopol in Crimea, posted videos and photos of the fire on his Telegram channel.
Rasvoshayev said the highest ranking was assigned based on how difficult it was to put out the fire at the city’s port. However, he informed that the open fire has been brought under control.
Rasvozayev said the oil depot was hit by “two enemy drones” and four oil tanks were set on fire. A third drone was shot down from the sky over Crimea, and one was radio-electronically disabled, according to Sergei Aksyonov, Crimea’s Moscow-appointed governor.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move deemed illegal by most of the world. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview this week that his country is seeking to retake the peninsula in case of an impending counterattack.
The incident comes a day after Russia fired more than 20 cruise missiles and two drones at Ukraine, killing at least 23 people.. Two missiles hit an apartment building in the central Ukrainian city of Uman, killing nearly all of the victims.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on Saturday that the dead included five children, adding that 22 of the 23 bodies had been identified. A woman is missing, Klimenko said.
Overnight, Russian forces launched several drone strikes in Ukraine. Ukraine’s air force command intercepted two Iranian-made self-exploding Shahed drones and shot down a spy drone on Saturday morning.
Rasvozayev said there were no casualties from the fire at the oil depot and that fuel supplies to Sevastopol would not be interrupted. The city was subject to repeated attack attempts With drones, especially in recent weeks.
Earlier this week, Razvozhayev said the Russian military destroyed a Ukrainian naval drone that tried to attack the port and another exploded, shattering windows in several apartment buildings but causing no other damage.
Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence, told the RBC Ukraine news site on Saturday that the oil depot fire was “God’s punishment” for “civilians killed in Oman, including five children”.
He said more than 10 tankers carrying oil products for Russia’s Black Sea fleet were destroyed in Sevastopol, but stopped short of admitting Ukraine was responsible for the drone strike. The difference between the number of tanks given by Yusov and Rasvozhayev could not be immediately reconciled.
After previous attacks on Crimea, Kyiv has not publicly claimed responsibility, however, insisting that the country reserves the right to strike any target in response to Russian aggression.
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