Kyiv – A massive fire broke out at an oil depot in Crimea after it was hit by two Ukrainian drones, a Russia-appointed official reported Saturday, the latest in a string of attacks on the annexed peninsula as Russia braced for one Ukrainian counter-offensive prepared.
Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-installed governor of Sevastopol, a port city in Crimea, posted videos and photos of the fire on his Telegram channel.
Razvozhayev said that the fire in the city’s port was given the highest rank in terms of difficulty of extinguishing. However, he reported that the open fire had been contained.
Razvozhayev said the oil depot was attacked by “two enemy drones” and four oil tanks were burned. A third drone was shot down from the skies over Crimea and another was disabled by radio-electronic means, according to Crimea’s Moscow-appointed governor Sergei Aksyonov.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move considered illegal by most people around the world. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview this week that his country would try to retake the peninsula in the forthcoming counter-offensive.
The incident came a day after Russia fired more than 20 cruise missiles and two drones into Ukraine, killing at least 23 people. Almost all of the victims died when two rockets hit an apartment building in the central Ukrainian city of Uman.
Five children are among the dead, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on Saturday, adding that 22 of 23 bodies had been identified. A woman remained missing, Klymenko said.
Russian forces shot down more drones in Ukraine overnight. Ukraine’s Air Force Command said it had intercepted two Iranian-made self-detonating Shahed drones and shot down a reconnaissance drone on Saturday morning.
Razvozhayev said the fire at the oil depot did not cause any casualties and will not hamper fuel supplies in Sevastopol. The city has been subject to regular drone attacks, especially in recent weeks.
Earlier this week, Razvozhayev reported that the Russian military destroyed a Ukrainian sea drone attempting to attack the port and another exploded, smashing windows in several apartment buildings but causing no further damage.
Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman Andriy Yusov told news outlet RBC Ukraine on Saturday that the oil depot fire was “God’s punishment” for “the murdered civilians in Uman, including five children.”
He said that more than 10 tanks with oil products destined for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet were destroyed in Sevastopol, but did not recognize Ukraine’s responsibility for a drone strike. The difference in the number of tanks that Yusov and Razvozhayev gave could not be leveled immediately.
Even after previous attacks on Crimea, Kiev refused to openly admit responsibility, but stressed that the country has the right to attack any target in response to Russian aggression.
Elsewhere, Ukrainian forces shelled the town of Nova Kakhovka, as did Moscow-based authorities shelling in the Russian-held part of southern Ukraine’s Kherson province. “Heavy artillery fire” cut power in the city, officials said.
The Ukrainian-controlled part of the province also came under fire on Saturday. According to the Kherson Prosecutor’s Office, one person was killed and another injured during a Russian shelling in the area of the village of Bilozerka.
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