0

Drone hits Crimean ammunition depot as Russian strikes kill at least 8 in Ukraine

Share

KYIV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian drone hit an ammunition depot in central Crimea on Saturday, sparking an explosion, less than a week after a predawn strike on a key bridge linking the peninsula to Russia prompted Moscow to exit a landmark grain export deal and pound Ukraine’s seaports with drones and missiles.

Sergey Aksyonov, the Kremlin-appointed head of the territory that Moscow illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, said in a Telegram post that there were no immediate reports of casualties but that authorities were evacuating civilians within a five-kilometer (three-radius) of the blast site.

The Ukrainian military appeared to confirm it had launched the drone strike, claiming through its press service that it had destroyed an oil depot and Russian arms warehouses in the Krasnohvardiiske area, although without specifying what weapons were used.

Social media posts circulating on Saturday had earlier referenced unconfirmed reports of “several” drones targeting an oil depot and airstrip, as well as a loud blast resembling the sound of detonating shells.

The explosion in Krasnohvardiiske came less than a week after a Ukrainian strike Monday on the crucial Kerch bridge linking Crimea with Russia, which killed two people and left a section of the roadway hanging perilously.

Moscow on the same day ended its participation in a wartime deal that allowed Ukrainian grain to be exported through the Black Sea and later pounded Ukraine’s seaports with drones and missiles after vowing “retribution” for the attack on the bridge, a key supply route for Russian forces in Ukraine.

On Wednesday, a fire broke out within military training grounds in eastern Crimea that forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 people and the closure of a nearby highway, according to Aksyonov. Neither Moscow nor local Kremlin-appointed authorities gave reasons for the blaze, and Ukraine did not comment.

The Russian company operating the Kerch bridge announced on Saturday morning that it was temporarily halting all traffic across it, without giving reasons. Traffic was later allowed to resume crossing.

Ukraine previously successfully struck the bridge in October, when a truck bomb blew up two of its sections and required months of repair. Moscow decried that assault as an act of terrorism and retaliated by bombarding Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, targeting the country’s power grid over the winter.

The Kerch Bridge is a conspicuous symbol of Moscow’s claims on Crimea and an essential land link to the peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014. The $3.6 billion bridge is the longest in Europe and is crucial for Russia’s military operations in southern Ukraine in the nearly 17-month-old war.

Also on Saturday, Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian attacks on 11 regions across the country over the previous day killed at least eight civilians and wounded others, as fierce fighting continues in Kyiv’s attempts to dislodge Russian forces from territory they have occupied.

The regional prosecutor’s office in the eastern Donetsk region said that at least four people, including a married couple, were killed as Russian forces on Friday night shelled the settlement of Niu-York, south of the city of Bakhmut — the site of the war’s longest and bloodiest battle until it fell to Moscow in May. Three other Niu-York residents were hospitalized.

Also on Saturday morning, Ukraine’s interior ministry said that two civilians died as Russian forces Friday struck Kostiantynivka, a city in the Donetsk region, from multiple rocket launchers. In a post on its official Telegram channel, the ministry said that another civilian was wounded in the same attack, which also destroyed 20 private homes, cars and a gas pipeline.

Two people were also killed near the northern city of Chernihiv, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Russian border, as Russian cruise missiles destroyed the local cultural center and damaged apartment blocks, the regional military administration reported on Saturday morning. It did not specify the exact time of the attack, saying only it took place within the previous 24 hours.

Three civilians were wounded as Russian troops overnight shelled a town neighboring the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, local Gov. Serhiy Lysak reported Saturday.

Ukrainian officials have regularly accused Moscow of using the Zaporizhzhia plant, which Russian forces captured early in the war, as a base for firing on Ukrainian-held territory nearby. Fears have also mounted that Russia might sabotage the plant — Europe’s largest — in an attempt to stymie Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive, which has focused on the Zaporizhzhia region as well as the country’s industrial east

The night passed quietly in the Ukrainian capital, with AP journalists in Kyiv witnessing no air raid alerts.

The Ukrainian air force on Saturday morning said that it had overnight brought down 14 Russian drones, including five Iranian-made ones, over the country’s southeast, where battles are raging. In a regular social media update, the air force said that all Iranian-made Shahed exploding drones launched by Russian troops during the night were brought down, pointing to Ukraine’s increasing success rate in neutralizing them.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

#Drone #hits #Crimean #ammunition #depot #Russian #strikes #kill #Ukraine