As outlined in new reporting, the Ukrainian air force is saying up to a dozen Russian aircraft were destroyed in recent blasts at a Russian airbase on the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed, seizing control from Ukraine through both military and corrupt political action, in 2014.
Yuriy Ignat, a Ukrainian air force spokesperson, said “if additionally a dozen planes are destroyed there, it will be a real small victory.” Ukrainian authorities didn’t publicly claim credit for the impacts on the base, which is a substantial distance behind front lines in the war between Russia and Ukraine. A Ukrainian official who went unnamed in the report told The Washington Post, however, that Ukrainian special forces were responsible for the explosions, which satellite imagery confirmed left damage at the base, including ruined warplanes. The Post cited a statement from Ukrainian leadership that nine Russian warplanes were destroyed at the targeted base (called the Saki airbase), which the publication said would constitute the largest single-day loss for the Russian air force since the current conflict between the country and Ukraine began.
The Post notes the vulnerability of and impacts on Russian military assets in the Crimean peninsula could significantly impede the country’s aggression elsewhere in Ukraine, since the area’s in use for supplying troops and ammunition for the Russian military positions across Ukraine’s southern regions, including the occupied city of Kherson. Despite the lack of a public confirmation from Ukrainian leadership the country was responsible for the impacts in Crimea, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a recent address that the country would pursue the peninsula. “Crimea is Ukrainian, and we will never give it up,” he remarked. In general, Ukrainian special forces are also leading resistance fighters targeting occupying Russian troops in the country. Oleksiy Danilov, who serves as secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, admitted the existence of the partisans, although he declined to provide substantial details about what they’re doing.
“If you ask me if there are partisans, I will answer: There are,” Danilov remarked. “They are everywhere. We prepared in advance and we have them… What they are doing is another matter. It depends on what tasks and when they will be received. And there is and will be resistance.” Although the exact weaponry used in the apparent Ukrainian hit on the Saki airbase isn’t publicly known, a U.S. official said weaponry provided by the United States weren’t behind it. The U.S. is broadly keeping track of key weapons it’s sending in support of Ukraine’s fight, including HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems — which allowed the spokesperson for the U.S. defense department to recently conclusively refute a claim from the Russian defense minister that Putin’s forces wiped out six HIMARS systems.
One of the features of the HIMARS system is the particularly long range at which it can strike. Another feature of the system is its high level of accuracy, eliminating the need for as many munitions and lessening the potential of unintended impacts. “What is happening, however, is that the Ukrainians are employing with devastating accuracy and effectiveness, each of the fully accounted for precision missile systems the U.S., our Allies, and partners have provided them to defend against Russia’s brutal, criminal invasion,” Defense Department spokesperson Todd Breasseale said after refuting the Russian claims of destroying HIMARS systems.