Drones hit oil tanks in Sevastopol, sparking fire that burned for hours – Ukrainian artillery pounds Russian positions
A drone strike sparked a massive fire today at oil tanks in Sevastopol, the port of Russia’s annexed Crimean peninsula, while Russian-held Ukrainian cities were shelled by Ukrainian forces, a day after Kiev announced that its preparations for a spring attack are almost complete.
Experts examined the scene of the fire in Sevastopol and “it was found that a drone managed to reach the oil tanks,” the region’s Moscow-based governor, Mikhail Razvozaev, said via Telegram, stressing that no one was injured in the fire, which raised a huge cloud of black smoke into the sky. Another drone was shot down, its wreckage found on the shore near the terminal, Razvozahev added.
On the Kiev side, a Ukrainian military intelligence official said more than 10 oil tanks with a capacity of about 40,000 tons intended for use by Russia’s Black Sea fleet were destroyed.
“This is God’s punishment especially for the dead civilians in Uman, among whom were five children,” said Andriy Yusov, referring to a Russian missile attack on a city in central Ukraine on Friday.
The Ukrainian official, however, did not clearly state that Ukraine was responsible for the attack in Sevastopol, but warned that similar explosions like today’s will continue. “In the near future, it is good for all residents of the temporarily occupied Crimea not to be near military facilities and facilities that supply the aggressor’s army,” he said.
Ukrainian officials typically do not claim responsibility for explosions at military sites in Crimea, although they often celebrate similar attacks.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces said earlier today that they had no information to suggest that Ukraine was responsible for the fire at the fuel storage facility in Sevastopol.
Ukraine does not have missiles of such a range that they can reach targets in locations like Sevastopol, but the Ukrainian military has been using drones throughout the war.
Since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022, Moscow has accused Kiev of launching drone attacks in Crimea.
Ukraine maintains that returning all of its legitimate territory, including Crimea — the peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014 — to the control of Ukrainian forces is a key condition for any peace deal.
Sergei Aksionov, the Russian-appointed head of Crimea, said on Telegram that air defense and electronic warfare forces shot down two drones in the region’s airspace today. “There are no casualties or damage,” he said.
Ukrainian attacks on Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions and villages in Russian territory
At the same time today, “heavy” Ukrainian artillery fire left the town of Nova Kakhovka in the southern Ukrainian province of Kherson without electricity, said the occupation authorities installed there by Moscow.
“Due to heavy artillery fire (…) Nova Kakhovka remains without electricity,” the Moscow-based military and civil administration of the city, which had 45,000 residents before the start of the Russian invasion, said in a press release.
Moscow unilaterally annexed the Ukrainian province of Kherson in September 2022, but Russian forces control part of that province. The Russian army in the face of a Ukrainian counterattack was forced to retreat last year, abandoning the homonymous capital of the province.
In late March, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported that Russian forces had withdrawn from their positions in Nova Kakhovka, home to a hydroelectric power plant.
This information was later denied by the Ukrainian General Staff, which admitted that it was wrong.
Also today, five villages in Russia’s Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, were left without electricity today after Ukrainian artillery fire, local governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said.
“The village of Novaya Tavolyanka came under fire from Ukrainian forces today,” Gladkov wrote on Telegram, adding that the village and four other nearby towns remain without power.
“According to the first information, no one was injured,” the governor emphasized.
Sites and infrastructure in Russia’s Belgorod region are regularly hit by shelling attributed by Moscow to the Ukrainian military, without Kiev claiming responsibility for the strikes.
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