Two main theories on how Russian air base in Novofedorivka was partially destroyed
Officially, the Armed Forces of Ukraine do not have high-precision missiles to hit distant military targets
On the afternoon of August 9 came the news that many Ukrainians had been consciously or unconsciously waiting for a full-blown war for over five months, and perhaps even since 2014: several massive explosions rocked the Saki airfield near the village of Novofedorivka. Plumes of smoke from the explosions could be seen both on land and at sea.
Later, the so-called "Governor of Crimea" Sergei Aksyonov confirmed reports that the explosions occurred at Saki airfield. However, he did not provide any information about the cause of the explosion.
Russia's Ministry of Defense, in turn, declared that "everything is going according to plan": At 3:20 p.m. "several aircraft munitions were detonated". at Saki airfield. No one was reportedly injured, as was the plane.
Read also: Russia does not accuse Ukraine of attacking the airfield in Crimea so as not to admit the shortcomings of air defense – ISW
At the same time, the Crimean “authorities” immediately reported five fatalities. Later, Russian mass media reported that one person had been killed and nine others injured. Russia prepared the ground for future accusations against Ukraine and began saying that all the wounded were civilians.
Journalists of the investigative program Skhemy of Ukrainian television on Telegram Messenger reiterated that Saki airfield is one of the most important for Russian aviation on the occupied peninsula. It is a permanent base for the Russian Air Force's 43rd Fighter Regiment, which mainly includes Su-30SM, Su-33 and Su-24M strike aircraft. Russia uses the airfield for bombing and air raids on Ukrainian cities.
Planet Labs satellite images taken about four hours before the series of blasts at Novofedorivka show a large number of Russian military aircraft and warehouses.
After the explosions, the Russians announced the evacuation of houses near the airfield, while Aksyonov announced a "yellow terror threat" until August 24.
At the same time, experts said that the explosions at the military facility, located more than 200 kilometers from the nearest positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, were probably the result of a missile attack.
Previously, Ukrainian forces have never attacked the occupied peninsula. And if the missiles of the Armed Forces of Ukraine really got there, it would be the first example of an attack on enemy targets in Crimea, which Moscow considers a Russian country.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense ironically commented on the explosions at the Novofedorivka airfield. They said that they could not determine the cause of the fire on the territory of the airfield, but noted "fire safety rules and the ban on smoking in unauthorized places."
Yuriy Ihnat, spokesman for the command of the Ukrainian Air Force, did not answer a question from NV pm whether Ukrainian forces had attacked the enemy airfield in Crimea. A little later, Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the presidential office, said on the Russian exile opposition channel Dozhd that the Ukrainian army had nothing to do with the explosions at the airfield.
How it happened
Meanwhile, the US-based newspaper The New York Times, citing a senior Ukrainian military official with knowledge of the situation, reported that Ukrainian forces were behind the explosion at Saki airfield on Crimea's west coast.
"This was an air base from which planes would regularly take off to attack our forces in the southern theater," the official said.
The official would not disclose the type of weapon used in the attack, saying only that "a device of exclusively Ukrainian manufacture was used."
Military expert Viktor Kevliuk suggests the attacks may have been carried out by Ukrainian Neptun anti-ship missiles, which use GPS coordinates to guide them to land targets.
It was probably a Neptun missile that destroyed the Moskva cruiser, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, in April.
Mykola Bielieskov, research fellow at the National Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of Ukraine, suggests that the Armed Forces of Ukraine could have deployed US AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles by firing them from MiG-29 - or Su-27 fighter jets fired . However, the aircraft had to be upgraded to use such weapons.
However, Kevliuk explains that it wasn't the AGM-88 HARM that the Armed Forces of Ukraine used to hit the military base: the Ukrainian Armed Forces only used them to punch a "hole" in the object's air defenses.
"And two US long-range ATACMS missiles (went through that hole)," the expert said.
Also read: Four more HIMARS missile systems already in Ukraine – Reznikov
The main carrier for ATACMS, whose flight range is up to 300 kilometers, are the already known HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems. However, the United States has officially declared that it is supplying Ukraine with significantly shorter-range missiles for these launchers. At the same time, former Interior Ministry adviser Viktor Andrusiv said that ammunition with a range of 200-300 kilometers is already in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Serhiy Zgurets, a military expert and head of the national security think tank Defense Express, also supports the theory that ATACMS hit Saki airfield. However, the video footage during the explosions did not record any flight of missiles, and for now this is “just a theory”. ATACMS is a ballistic missile that hits an object almost vertically at high speed. So it's hard to see at normal video frame rates.
"When the Russians hit Kiev's Retroville mall with their Kinzhal ballistic missile, the footage didn't record the missiles themselves, either," Zgurets said.
Experts also said that the explosions in Novofedorivka were not the result of a drone attack or the actions of a sabotage group.
A "hole" in the sky
British expert Timothy Ash commented on the attack near Novofedorivka in his blog.
"It is remarkable that the Russian air defenses failed again," he said.
"Remember this is a high-end Russian target - like the (sunken Black Sea Fleet flagship) Moskva - so the fact that several Ukrainian missiles were hit indicates a pathetic failure of Russian air defenses."
Earlier, military journalist Yuriy Butusov wrote that Ukrainian forces destroyed 14 Russian anti-aircraft missile systems and radars on August 5-7, according to the Ukrainian General Staff. In his opinion, this sudden “plague” could be the result of a powerful blow, probably inflicted by the already mentioned AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles.
In addition, at first it was not announced that these missiles were delivered to Ukraine.
However, shortly before the attack near Novofedorivka, the Pentagon confirmed that it had handed over anti-radar missiles to Ukraine.
Time for the Russians to flee
Meanwhile, Refat Chubarov, chairman of the Crimean Tatar Meylis and Ukrainian MP, spoke in Russian to Russians in Crimea.
"You have just received the first 'call' encouraging you to leave the territory of Russian-held Crimea immediately," he said on Facebook.
“You should know that your stay in occupied Crimea is illegal and criminal. Don't waste time, leave Russian-occupied Crimea today. Remember, the winners will be those who cross the Kerch Strait Bridge today!”
Also Read: US reiterates support for Ukraine's efforts to defend its sovereignty, including in Crimea
Judging by the video released by Russian Telegram channels, many Russians paid attention to Chubarov, as a traffic jam was seen on the roads towards the city of Kerch and the bridge late August 9.
Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine
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