Massive explosions ripped through a Russian military base in occupied Crimea on Tuesday. The airbase was located 165 miles away from Odesa (the nearest Ukrainian-controlled territory). According to the Russians, there is no evidence of any explosion or sightings. A bit more bizarre is the Ukrainian claim that “a device of Ukrainian manufacturing was used.”
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) August 9, 2022
Video clearly showing two large explosions happening exactly simultaneously at two different locations. They happened simultaneously to the second.
Afterwards a third large explosion is seen. pic.twitter.com/OC0OIyaWUD
— Oliver Alexander (@OAlexanderDK) August 9, 2022
— Hanna Liubakova (@HannaLiubakova) August 9, 2022
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) August 9, 2022
— MilitaryLand.net (@Militarylandnet) August 9, 2022
This airfield is the largest in Crimea and the origin of many sorties against Ukrainian forces. In the hours preceding the attack, satellite imagery showed that there were more than 20 aircraft.
⚡️Ukrainian investigative news project Skhemy published satellite images of a Russian military base near #Novofedorivka in #Crimea. According to these images, there were apparently Il-76, 10 Su-30 and 12 Su-24 at the airfield this morning.
— The Ukrainian Week (@ukr_week_en) August 9, 2022
The video that emerged shows the Su-24 Fencer all-weather attack aircraft being destroyed, but it does not provide any kind of battle damage assessment.
Nearly a mile from the impact zone, buildings were damaged by the blast.
— ꑭ Natalia ꑭ (@NatalieSmal) August 9, 2022
Incredible amounts of damage at Novofedorivka airbase in Crimea. pic.twitter.com/ymFh7HUxDX
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) August 9, 2022
Reports indicate that a huge traffic jam is forming at Kerch Bridge, which spans Kerch Strait, which separates Russian territory and occupied Crimea. You shouldn’t believe anything you hear about the distance.
People are trying to leave Novofedorovka after a series of explosions — Traffic jams on the outskirts of the village, columns of emergency vehicles are heading from #Yevpatoria#Crimea #Russia pic.twitter.com/mOVIGGCoin
— Readovka World (@ReadovkaWorld), August 9, 2022
People are trying to leave Novofedorovka after a series of explosions — Traffic jams on outskirts of the village, сolumns of emergency vehicles are heading from #Yevpatoria#Crimea #Russia pic.twitter.com/mOVIGGCoin
— Readovka World (@ReadovkaWorld) August 9, 2022
What caused the explosions?
It is impossible to rule out an “industrial accident” scenario like the Russians try to spin. Although there have been other disasters such as those at Texas City and Port Chicago in the past, the nature of these blasts suggests that they were deliberately caused.
As an Army man, I would like to advocate for partisan forces led and commanded by Ukrainian special forces. I believe simultaneous explosions, the type, and location of the target reduce the possibility of people being able to get into multiple ammunition storage areas without having a “close encounter” of the worst sort.
A strike with precision-guided munition is possible, but it is unlikely. The air defense environment around the air base and other military facilities are very intense. There were no missiles fired to defend the area and no sound of a jet aircraft. I find it unlikely that non-stealth aircraft will be close enough to execute this attack without being engaged and detected.
This video shows two identical massive explosions that happened at almost the same moment in two different parts of the Russian Saki airbase in occupied Crimea. This is the best proof of a missile strike. Probably GPS-guided missiles hit ammo depots pic.twitter.com/D8ZMUcmOXB
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) August 9, 2022
When we talk about precision strikes by missiles, our field is limited to those systems that have the required range to execute this attack. The Hrim 2 short-range missile ballistic missile and Korshun cruise rocket are the only two systems capable of carrying out this attack.
Army Tactical Missile System – ATACMS
ATACMS is not currently in the theater. However, it is launched from M-270 MLRS, M-142 HIMARS, and M-270 MLRS, which has led to speculation that it was. The request from Ukraine for this missile was denied. It’s not my intention to bring it up, but I have seen a lot more claims that this was an ATACMS attack. This is how an ATACMS strike might look. ATACMS was not activated its air defense systems, which is a positive. Either everyone was drinking on plane de-icer or there is another explanation.
OTR-21 Tochka is a possible candidate, also known as the SS-21 Scarab to NATO. Although it is a short-range missile ballistic, today’s strike was within its operational range. Technically, simultaneous impacts with the Tochka are possible. The sound is what is missing. A Tochka inbound is extremely fast and has a significant sound signature. Its arrival, like the ATACMS, should have triggered air raid alerts and been attacked by surface-to-air Missiles. These missiles can theoretically be engaged by the S-400 system, which acts as a mentally impaired version of Patriot.
R-360 Neptune Cruise Missile
In April, the Neptune cruise missile soared to the top of the world’s stage when it was credited for sinking the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Russian Flagship Sinks while being Town to Port.
It was originally designed to be an anti-ship missile. However, it has since been upgraded to increase its range and an inertial guide package that allows it to be used in a ground attack mode. It can travel approximately 180 miles.
Three factors lead me to believe Neptune was used. The simultaneous impacts are a hallmark of cruise missile targeting. Neptune’s flight path is approximately 15 feet above ground level, so it would not have activated air defense systems. Also, the anonymous Ukrainian official stated that the weapon was manufactured in Ukraine.
We will have to wait for the outcome of this. After commercial satellites make another pass, we’ll be able to learn more about the extent of the damage. This could be Russia’s biggest single-day aircraft loss since World War II. So far, the Russian response has been mixed. Moscow claims that this is an accident. Russian entertainment and social media personalities have different opinions.
Russian state media personalities seem genuinely taken aback by the blasts just now in Crimea (reportedly at a military airfield)
Olga Skabeyeva says the attack was “completely over the top”
Margarita Simonyan writes “Again. Where are you, red line?”
— Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) August 9, 2022
Putin’s propagandist Skabeeva publishes a video of the result of the Ukrainian Armed Forces strike on a military airfield in Crimea and comments that “this is already too much” That is, bombing and firing rockets at Ukrainian cities is normal, but what about a Russian military? pic.twitter.com/5tw9C9tZEd
— Alf Really (@vik8867dn) August 9, 2022
What happens next has significant political consequences. Russia loses credibility if it refuses to admit the attack, even though its propagandists acknowledge it. It must acknowledge the attack but not do anything significant. This is a sign that Russia has implicitly supported the expansion of the theater to include Ukraine, and it has tacitly acknowledged that Crimea is not part of Russia.
Looks like a complete blackout in the Russian telegram channels on the Crimea explosions in the last 30 minutes or so – waiting for the “official version” to land from above.
— Dmitri (@wartranslated) August 9, 2022
It will be an interesting week.