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One person killed after Ukraine appears to hit major Russian airbase in Crimea – as it happened


One person dead in Crimea blast, says head of region

The head of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, said one person has died as a result of the explosion earlier on Tuesday.

Blasts rocked a Russian airbase near seaside resorts in the annexed Crimean peninsula, injuring five people according to local authorities.

Witnesses told Reuters they heard at least 12 explosions at about 3.20pm local time from the Saky airbase near Novofedorivka on Crimea’s western coast. They described a final blast around 30 minutes later as the loudest.

Russia’s defence ministry claimed the “detonation of several aviation ammunition stores” had caused an explosion, Russian news agencies reported, but that there had been no injuries.

Key events

Summary

The time in Kyiv is 9pm. Here is a summary of the day’s top news stories:

  • The head of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, said one person had died as a result of the explosion earlier on Tuesday. Blasts rocked a Russian airbase near seaside resorts in the annexed Crimean peninsula, injuring five people according to local authorities. Witnesses told Reuters they heard at least 12 explosions at about 3.20pm local time from the Saky airbase near Novofedorivka on Crimea’s western coast. They described a final blast around 30 minutes later as the loudest.

  • The head of Ukraine’s state nuclear power firm warned of the “very high” risks from shelling at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the Russian-occupied south and said it was vital Kyiv regains control over the facility in time for winter. Energoatom’s chief, Petro Kotin, told Reuters in an interview that last week’s Russian shelling had damaged three lines that connect the Zaporizhzhia plant to the Ukrainian grid and that Russia wanted to connect the facility to its grid.

  • The leaders of Estonia and Finland want fellow European countries to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens, saying they should not be able to take holidays in Europe while the Russian government carries out a war in Ukraine. The Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, wrote on Tuesday on Twitter that “visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right” and that it was “time to end tourism from Russia now”, the Associated Press reported.

  • Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad has been struggling with quotas imposed by the EU for sanctioned goods that it can import across Lithuania from mainland Russia or Belarus, the region’s governor admitted. Lithuania infuriated Moscow in June by banning the land transit of goods such as concrete and steel to Kaliningrad after EU sanctions on them came into force, Reuters reported.

  • Russia has launched an Iranian satellite from Kazakhstan amid concerns that it could be used for battlefield surveillance in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Iran has denied that the Khayyam satellite, which was delivered into orbit aboard a Soyuz rocket launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, would ever be under Russian control.

  • Russia has suspended an arrangement that allowed US and Russian inspectors to visit each other’s nuclear weapons sites under the 2010 New Start treaty, in a fresh blow to arms control. Mutual inspections had been suspended as a health precaution since the start of the Covid pandemic, but a foreign ministry statement on Monday added another reason Russia is unwilling to restart them. It argued that US sanctions imposed because of the invasion of Ukraine stopped Russian inspectors travelling to the US.

  • The global health aid agency Unitaid is donating 220 specialised portable breathing devices to Ukraine that can help save lives of premature babies even in frontline hospitals where there is no electrical power. During Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of hospitals have been damaged or destroyed, disrupting supply lines and placing newborn babies at risk of death or disability from a lack of access to equipment and oxygen, Reuters reported.

  • More than 10.5 million people have crossed the border from Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on its website on Tuesday. Ukrainians have been fleeing their homes since the Russian invasion began on 24 February.

  • In an interview, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Denis Pushilin, said the advance of pro-Russian forces in the Donbas was developing in a northern direction, with fighting on the outskirts of Bakhmut and Soledar. He said that the DPR was in negotiations with Pyongyang to bring builders from North Korea in to help rebuild the occupied territory. Pushilin also stated that there would be an “open tribunal over the war criminals of Ukraine”, with the first to be held in Mariupol, which would feature the testimony of the “Azovites”, in reference to Ukraine’s Azov battalion.

  • Russia’s assault towards the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine has been its most successful axis in the Donbas region in the past month, the UK Ministry of Defence has said in its latest intelligence update. Despite this, it had only gained 10km in that time, while elsewhere in Donbas it had gained only 3km over 30 days – “almost certainly significantly less than planned”.

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That’s it for the Ukraine live blog for today. Thanks for following along. I’ll be back tomorrow, see you then.

Dan Sabbagh

Dan Sabbagh

A Russian airbase deep behind the frontline in Crimea was damaged by several large explosions on Tuesday afternoon, killing at least one person, although it was not immediately clear whether it had been targeted by a long range Ukrainian missile strike.

Multiple social media videos showed explosions and clouds emerging from the Saky military base in Novofedorivka on the western coast of Crimea, prompting questions about how a location more than 100 miles from the frontline could have been attacked. Later a senior Ukrainian official appeared to claim responsibility, without giving details.

Russia’s defence ministry told the RIA Novosti news agency that the explosions took place at about 3.20pm local time, and that “several aviation munitions detonated” in a storage area. It said it was trying to discern the cause of the incident.

The head of Ukraine’s state nuclear power firm warned of the “very high” risks of shelling at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the Russian-occupied south and said it was vital Kyiv regains control over the facility in time for winter.

Energoatom’s chief, Petro Kotin, told Reuters in an interview that last week’s Russian shelling had damaged three lines that connect the Zaporizhzhia plant to the Ukrainian grid and that Russia wanted to connect the facility to its grid.

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of shelling the site of the vast nuclear power station – Europe’s biggest – that lies in Russian-controlled territory, in recent days.

Some of the shelling landed near storage facilities for spent fuel, an area that has 174 containers of highly radioactive material, Kotin said, warning of the dangers of them being hit.

“This is … the most radioactive material in all the nuclear power plant. This would [mean] the distribution [of it] around this place and then we will have like a radiation cloud and then the weather will decide … which direction the cloud goes,” he said.

“The risk is very high,” he said.

Kotin said Russia wanted to connect the plant to its grid, a technically difficult process that requires the facility to be severed from the Ukrainian system before it can be gradually connected to the Russian one.

The leaders of Estonia and Finland want fellow European countries to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens, saying they should not be able to take holidays in Europe while the Russian government carries out a war in Ukraine.

Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, wrote on Tuesday on Twitter that “visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right” and that it is “time to end tourism from Russia now”, the Associated Press reported.

A day earlier, her counterpart in Finland, Sanna Marin, told Finnish broadcaster YLE that “it is not right that while Russia is waging an aggressive, brutal war of aggression in Europe, Russians can live a normal life, travel in Europe, be tourists”.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, went further in a Washington Post interview on Monday, saying all western countries should ban Russian tourists.

Estonia and Finland both border Russia and are members of the European Union, which banned air travel from Russia after it invaded Ukraine. But Russians can still travel by land to both countries and apparently are then taking flights to other European destinations.

The Ukrainian military claims to have struck a major airbase deep inside the occupied Crimean peninsula.

At least 12 explosions hit the Saky naval airbase, causing a huge plume of smoke.

Russia has disputed the claims and says it was not an attack but a detonation of ammunition.

Explosions at Saky airbase in Crimea send plumes of smoke into sky – video

One person dead in Crimea blast, says head of region

The head of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, said one person has died as a result of the explosion earlier on Tuesday.

Blasts rocked a Russian airbase near seaside resorts in the annexed Crimean peninsula, injuring five people according to local authorities.

Witnesses told Reuters they heard at least 12 explosions at about 3.20pm local time from the Saky airbase near Novofedorivka on Crimea’s western coast. They described a final blast around 30 minutes later as the loudest.

Russia’s defence ministry claimed the “detonation of several aviation ammunition stores” had caused an explosion, Russian news agencies reported, but that there had been no injuries.

Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth

Russia has launched an Iranian satellite from Kazakhstan amid concerns that it could be used for battlefield surveillance in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Iran has denied that the Khayyam satellite, which was delivered into orbit aboard a Soyuz rocket launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, would ever be under Russian control.

But the Washington Post had previously reported that Moscow told Tehran it “plans to use the satellite for several months, or longer, to enhance its surveillance of military targets” in Ukraine, according to two US officials.

The satellite, named after the Persian poet and mathematician Omar Khayyam, was built by Russia and will include a high-resolution camera that would give Tehran new capabilities to monitor sensitive facilities in Israel and the Persian Gulf, the paper reported.

Pjotr Sauer

Pjotr Sauer

Crimea’s emergency services said three people were injured as a result of the blast. The ministry of defence said earlier there were no casualties and no aircraft was damaged.

The head of occupied Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, said it was “too early” to talk about casualties, adding that medics were working on the ground. He said:

Ambulance crews and medics are working on the spot, there are enough of them. It is too early to talk about casualties.

Among the civilian population, no one has yet applied for medical assistance.

Ukraine appears to have struck major Russian airbase in Crimea

Peter Beaumont

Peter Beaumont

Ukraine appears to have struck a major Russian airbase deep inside the occupied Crimean peninsula in what is being seen as a significant strike in a region regarded by Moscow as largely safe from attack.

Video footage posted on Tuesday afternoon showed a series of large explosions at the Saky air force base located 200km behind the Russian front lines in Ukraine’s south.

The Saky naval air station is located in Novofedorivka, and is the airbase associated with operations of Russian Black Sea fleet.

What is significant about the attack is the distance of the location targeted behind Russian lines, suggesting both the use of ballistic missiles and that recent Ukrainian strikes on Russian air defences allowed the missiles to hit their target.

Huge explosion at the military airport in Novofedorivka in Russian-occupied Crimea. About 200km (over 120 miles) from the frontline.pic.twitter.com/8POh6yNhmq

— Ostap Yarysh (@OstapYarysh) August 9, 2022

Big explosion in Crimea leading to a fire. Former advisor to the head of MIA of Ukraine saying it’s a long-range missile, but unconfirmed for now. pic.twitter.com/Z37g7l9PWv

— Dmitri (@wartranslated) August 9, 2022

Underlining the importance of the attack, Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at St Andrews University, tweeted: “What the Ukrainians are doing is extremely important. By showing they can hit Crimea, they will further stretch Russia defensive capabilities. The Russians are going to have to protect a huge area behind the front lines.”

Reuters is carrying a little more details from the witness it has spoken to concerning the reports of explosions in Crimea.

At least 12 explosions of varying intensity were heard in the course of a minute around 3.30pm local time, two witnesses said. Three were particularly loud, triggering sparks and smoke.

(It is worth noting that the social media posts shared by Rodion Miroshnik placed the explosions slightly earlier, at 3pm local time – see post from 22 minutes ago)

Around 30 minutes later, one more blast, described by witnesses as the loudest of all, triggered two more plumes of smoke and dust. In the nearby town of Saky, sirens blared.

Reuters has distributed this image of the scene, which was taken from a third party.

Smoke rises after explosions were heard near Novofedorivka.
Smoke rises after explosions were heard near Novofedorivka. Photograph: Obtained By Reuters/Reuters

The Russian governor of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, said in a post on his Telegram channel that he had gone to the area and that the “circumstances are being clarified”.

An adviser to Aksyonov confirmed that explosions had occurred but declined to comment on the possible cause, Russian news agencies reported.

Emergency services were deployed, the Tass news agency reported, citing the regional health ministry.

Russia for decades leased the naval port of Sevastopol, home of its Black Sea Fleet, from Kyiv, but in 2014 annexed the entire peninsula from Ukraine in a move not recognised by most other countries.

On Telegram, the Russian Tass news agency has posted that “the Association of Tour Operators of Russia said that the explosion in the Crimea occurred far from the resort area. There were no casualties or injuries among the tourists.”

Authorities in Crimea appear to confirm reports of explosions in region

Authorities in Crimea appear to have been confirming reports of explosions in the region, although details are still scant.

Oleg Kryuchkov, a Kremlin-appointed adviser to the authorities in Crimea, has posted to Telegram to say: “So far, I can only confirm the very fact of several explosions in the Novofedorivka area. I ask everyone to wait for official reports.”

The BBC reports that pro-Russian military commander Yuri Kotenok said on his Telegram channel that there were about 10 explosions. “20km from Novofedorivka windows tremble and alarms go off in cars,” he wrote.

It quotes another local authority figure as saying: “Our airfield is exploding. Explosions are at the airfield. All the windows here have been shattered.”

The video clips which purport to show explosions in Crimea are being shared by pro-Russian social media as well as Ukrainian social media

Rodion Miroshnik, who goes under the title of the ambassador to Russia for the self-proclaimed and chiefly unrecognised Luhansk People’s Republic, has forwarded a message on Telegram featuring two videos and a still image of the apparent explosions, accompanied by the message:

Residents of Crimea report explosions near the village of Novofedorivka. The first explosion occurred at about 15:00 local time. There were a few more after it. Whether there are victims is unknown.

Three local witnesses have told Reuters they heard several loud explosions and seen black smoke rising from the direction of a Russian military airbase at Novofedorivka in western Crimea on Tuesday.

Videos shared on social media also showed a plume of smoke in the area. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

More details soon …

Global health aid agency Unitaid is donating 220 specialised portable breathing devices to Ukraine that can help save lives of premature babies even in frontline hospitals where there is no electrical power.

During Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hundreds of hospitals have been damaged or destroyed, disrupting supply lines and placing newborn babies at risk of death or disability from a lack of access to equipment and oxygen, Reuters reported.

Herve Verhoosel, a spokesperson for Unitaid, told a media briefing that the war was causing extra stress on pregnant women, leading to an increase in the number of premature births, which had tripled in some areas.

The new bubble nasal continuous positive airway pressure (bCPAP) devices are available in 25 facilities across Ukraine, Verhoosel said. Unitaid funds medical innovation programmes mainly in poor countries, and is hosted by the World Health Organization.

WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said that on a recent visit to a paediatric hospital close to the frontline in Ukraine she had seen medical staff who sleep in the basement every night, and constantly have to move children on ventilation machines.

“So having very portable devices that can function offline is absolutely critical,” she told the briefing.

Unitaid partnered with Vayu Global Health, a non-profit that specialises in low-cost healthcare equipment for developing countries, to provide the Kenya-made bCPAP machines, which cost about $500 each, as well as 125 oxygen blender systems.

Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad has been struggling with quotas imposed by the European Union for sanctioned goods that it can import across Lithuania from mainland Russia or Belarus, the region’s governor admitted.

Lithuania infuriated Moscow in June by banning the land transit of goods such as concrete and steel to Kaliningrad after EU sanctions on them came into force, Reuters reported.

As part of a deal reached in July, the EU imposed limits on the volume of such goods crossing by land between Kaliningrad and mainland Russia or Belarus, based on average volumes over the last three years, to prevent Kaliningrad being used to dodge sanctions.

Kaliningrad governor Anton Alikhanov estimated that the limits permit Russia to ship around 500,000 tonnes of sanctioned goods in total in both directions each year. But he said some quotas had already been reached, making it impossible, for instance, for Kaliningrad to import cement from Belarus – which used to account for around 200,000 tonnes a year. Moscow says trade with its outlying territory should not be subject to limits.

“Today, we have already exhausted the limits set by Europeans for the transportation of goods by rail: for instance, certain kinds of iron, steel, oil products, fertilisers, antifreeze and timber,” Russian news agencies quoted Alikhanov as saying at a meeting of the Valdai discussion club on Tuesday.

Russia’s former ambassador to Lithuania said that, while the transit deal had helped avoid the “worst case scenario”, the situation was “far from normal”.

More than 10.5m people have crossed border from Ukraine

More than 10.5 million people have crossed the border from Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said on its website on Tuesday.

Ukrainians have been fleeing their homes since the Russian invasion began on 24 February.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday that Russian forces had destroyed an ammunition depot near Uman in Ukraine storing US-made Himars missiles and M777 howitzers, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

The Reuters news agency was unable to verify the battlefield reports.

In its daily briefing, the ministry said it had destroyed more than 300 rockets in the strike.

Kyiv has hailed the arrival of the advanced, long-range Himars from the United States as a possible game-changer, while Moscow has accused the West of “dragging out” the conflict by arming Ukraine.





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