KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – A Ukrainian drone struck an ammunition depot in central Crimea on Saturday, triggering an explosion, less than a week later introduction strike on a key bridge encouraged Moscow to join the peninsula with Russia exit from landmark grain export market and pound Ukrainian ports with drones and missiles.
Sergey Aksyonov, the Kremlin-appointed head of the territory 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 five kilometers (three radii) of the blast site.
The Ukrainian military appeared to confirm that it launched the drone strike, claiming through its press service that it destroyed an oil depot and Russian army warehouses in the Krasnohvardiske area, although it did not specify what weapons were used.
Social media posts circulating on Saturday earlier referred to unconfirmed reports of “several” drones targeting an oil depot and an airstrip, as well as a loud explosion that sounded like the sound of explosive shells.
The explosion in Krasnohvardiske came less than a week after a strike by Ukraine on Monday the vital bridge of Kerch connecting Crimea to Russia, which killed two people and left part of the road hanging dangerously.
On the same day Moscow ended its participation in a war measure that allowed the export of grain from Ukraine through the Black Sea and beyond. pierced Ukrainian ports with drones and missiles after promising “extermination” for the attack on the bridge, a key supply route for Russian forces in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, a fire broke out inside military training grounds in eastern Crimea that forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 people and closed a nearby highway, according to Aksyonov. Neither Moscow nor local authorities appointed by the Kremlin gave reasons for the fire, and Ukraine did not comment on it.
The Russian company operating the Kerch bridge announced on Saturday morning that they were temporarily stopping all traffic across it, without giving reasons. Traffic was later allowed to re-enter the crossing.
Ukraine won the previous bridge successfully in October, when a truck bomb blew up two of its parts and required months of repair. Moscow dismissed the attack as an act of terrorism and bombed Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, targeting the country’s power grid during the winter.
Kerch Bridge is a prominent symbol of Moscow demands on the 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 critical to Russia’s military operations in southern Ukraine in the war is almost 17 months old.
Also on Saturday, Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian attacks on 11 regions across the country the previous day killed at least eight civilians and wounded others, as fierce fighting continues in Kyiv’s efforts to dislodge Russian forces from occupied territory.
The regional prosecutor’s office in the eastern Donetsk region said at least four people, including a married couple, were killed when Russian forces blocked the settlement of New York, south of the city of Bakhmut – the site of the war’s longest and bloodiest battle to date. fell to Moscow in May. Three other New York residents were hospitalized.
Also on Saturday morning, Ukraine’s interior ministry said two civilians died when Russian forces on Friday hit Kostiantynivka, a city in the Donetsk region, from multiple rocket launchers. In a post on its official Telegram channel, the ministry said another civilian was injured in the same attack, which also destroyed 20 private houses, cars and a gas pipeline.
Two people were also killed near the northern city of Chernihiv, about 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. He did not specify the exact time of the attack, saying it happened within the previous 24 hours.
Three civilians and Russian troops were wounded in the shelling of a town near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant overnight, local Government Serhiy Lysak reported on Saturday.
Ukrainian officials have regularly accused Moscow of using the Zaporizhzhia plant, captured by Russian forces early in the war, as a base for firing on nearby Ukrainian territory. Fear after that mount too Russia could destroy the plant — the largest in Europe — in an effort to thwart Ukraine’s ongoing counterattacks, which have targeted the Zaporizhzhia region and the country’s industrial east.
The night passed quietly in the Ukrainian capital, and AP journalists in Kyiv did not issue air raid warnings.
Ukraine’s air force said on Saturday morning that it had brought down 14 Russian drones overnight, including five Iranian-made ones, over the country’s south-east, where battles are raging. In a regular update on social media, the air force said all Iranian-made explosive Shahed drones launched by Russian troops were brought down overnight, indicating Ukraine’s increasing success rate in neutralizing them.