THE charred wreck of a £19million Russian warplane lies in a sea of debris after the first suspected Ukrainian attack on Crimea – as a second apparent strike today sparked a massive depot blaze.
The smouldering Su-24 ground attack jet is pictured in the aftermath of up to 15 explosions at Saki air base near Novofedorivka yesterday.
A Russian Su-24 warplane ravaged by the blasts at Saki air base in CrimeaCredit: East2west News
Scores of burnt-out cars were also seen in footage of the aftermathCredit: East2west News
Today another huge fire erupted at Russian seaside resort YeyskCredit: East2West
Russia denied claims saboteurs had blown up an oil depotCredit: East2West
Tuesday afternoon’s blasts sent sunbathers running from nearby beaches as a giant mushroom cloud rose into the sky.
And this morning another column of smoke erupted from an explosion and fire at a seaside resort in mainland Russia, 125 miles away.
Images show an industrial site ablaze in Yeysk, a popular holiday destination on the Sea of Azov near the border with Ukraine.
Russia said an electronics warehouse had caught fire and denied claims in Ukrainian media that “saboteurs” had attacked an oil depot.
Russia also denied there had been an attack on the Saki airfield in occupied Crimea yesterday.
It claimed munitions exploded as a result of fire safety breaches, and insisted no aircraft were damaged.
But images emerged overnight appearing to show at least one of Putin’s jets destroyed on the tarmac.
Scores of smashed and burnt-out cars were also reportedly filmed at the base, including one apparently skewered by a huge metal object following the blasts.
The explosions – which killed at least one person – sparked speculation Ukraine had attacked the base with long-range missiles.
If confirmed, it would be the first major strike on a Russian facility in Crimea since Putin annexed the peninsula in 2014.
Last night one Kyiv military official told the New York Times the nation’s armed forces had launched the attack.
He said they used Ukrainian-made missiles, not ones supplied by the West.
President Volodymyr Zelensky stoked the speculation by vowing: “Crimea is Ukrainian, and we will never give it up.”
He added: “This is just the beginning.
“Russia has turned our peninsula – which has always been and always will be one of the best places in Europe – into one of the most dangerous places.”
He did not confirm Ukraine was behind the attack, but hinted it could be the work of “partisans” – a reference to resistance fighters who took on Nazi occupiers in World War Two.
Sources have suggested a team of of saboteurs targeted the seaside base, which is used to launch attacks in southern Ukraine’s war zone.
A smaller explosion last month at the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol was blamed on Ukrainian saboteurs using a makeshift drone.
Russia has turned our penninsula – which has always been and always will be one of the best places in Europe – into one of the most dangerous places.
Volodymyr ZelenskyPresident of Ukraine
Statements from Ukraine appeared aimed at confusing the enemy.
Their defence ministry sarcastically said it “cannot establish the cause of the fire,” cautioning Russians against the dangers of “smoking in unspecified places.”
One person was killed and nine wounded in the chaos, Russian authorities in Crimea said.
Bystanders also claimed a fire had engulfed the runway of the military base, while nearby homes were also allegedly damaged.
At least a dozen explosions were heard of varying intensity and huge columns of smoke were seen on a clip from the scene.
One local said: “It slammed so loudly that we were deafened.”
Another said: “Something is burning in Novofedorivka. There are some explosions as it burns.”
Some 15 explosions were reported in 30 minutes in the barrage.
Detonations were said to be heard continuing to go off in the background.
About 30 people were evacuated from houses adjacent to the airfield.
Russia’s 43rd Fighter Aviation Regiment is currently based at the airfield, flying Su-30SM, Su-33 and Su-24M jets.
A Russian defence source denied there was incoming missile fire, claiming: “At around 3.20pm, aircraft ammunition detonated at the Saki airfield near the village of Novofedorovka at a rubble storage site.
“No one was injured as a result of the explosion. No aviation equipment at the airfield was damaged.
“Measures are being taken to extinguish the resulting fire and investigate the cause of the explosion.
“According to the report from the site, there was no fire impact on the collapsed ammunition storage area at the airfield.”
Last night the official Russian version was dismissed as “one chance in a million” by formerly pro-Putin intelligence and army veteran Igor Girkin.
A munitions explosion was also cited by Russia as the cause of a fire on the Black Sea flagship Moskva, which was sunk by Ukrainian missiles in April.
Russia has reported numerous fires and explosions at fuel and munitions storage sites near the Ukraine border, blaming some of them on Kyiv’s forces.
Ukrainian authorities have mostly remained silent about the incidents, maintaining an ambiguous stand and not claiming responsibility.
Huge mushroom clouds rose after the explosions at the air base in Crimea on TuesdayCredit: East2west News
Sunbathers at a nearby beach ran for their livesCredit: East2west News
Russian denied there was an attack and said munitions had ignited in an accidental fireCredit: East2West
A car was seen skewered by a metal pole in the aftermath
A three-mile exclusion zone was set up near the baseCredit: East2WestRussia is fighting for control of the Zaporizhzhia power plant, which is only a few hundred miles from Crimea
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