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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
29 Apr 2023

NextImg:Crimea Oil Depot Burns After Suspected Ukrainian Drone Attack

A drone strike hit an oil reservoir in Crimea and set it ablaze, according to the Russia-installed governor of the Black Sea peninsula’s port city of Sevastopol, with suspicions that it was a Ukrainian attack though Kyiv has not claimed responsibility.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-appointed governor of Sevastopol, posted videos and photos of the blaze on his Telegram channel.

“According to preliminary information, the fire was caused by a UAV hit,” he wrote.

Photos posted on social media showed intense fire burning and thick black smoke billowing into the sky.

Sevastopol, a key naval base that houses Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, has been hit by a series of drone attacks since the Kremlin launched the invasion of Ukraine last year.

While Ukraine did not claim responsibility for Saturday’s drone strike, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his country’s forces intend to reclaim Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

“The fire was reportedly caused by a Ukrainian UAV strike in the early hours today,” Alex Kokcharov, a London-based Country Risk analyst at S&P Global, said in a post on Twitter.

Razvozhayev said in a follow-up message that there were no injuries and that firefighters were on the scene working to contain the blaze.

“Since the volume of fuel is large, it will take time to contain the fire,” he said.

In a subsequent message posted around noon local time, he said that the fire had basically been contained and that firefighters were continuing to douse the site with water.

Earlier this week, Razvozhayev said that Russian forces destroyed a Ukrainian sea drone that attempted to attack the harbor and another one blew up, shattering windows in several apartment buildings.

Sergei Aksyonov, a Russian politician serving as the head of Crimea, said that local air defenses had neutralized three drones in the skies above the peninsula.

“In parallel with this morning’s drone attack on Sevastopol, air defense forces shot down one UAV in the skies over the Republic of Crimea and suppressed another one by electronic warfare. There were no casualties or damage. I ask everyone to stay calm,” Aksyonov said in a post on his Telegram channel.

After previous attacks on Crimea, Kyiv typically stopped short of openly claiming responsibility but emphasized that the country had the right to strike any target in response to Russian aggression.

Earlier in April, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that his country won’t budge from its demand that Russia withdraw its forces from all of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.

“We are united by U.N. charter principles and the shared conviction that Crimea is Ukraine and it will return under Ukraine’s control,” Kuleba said, speaking by video link to a gathering in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.

“Every time you hear anyone from any corner of the world saying that Crimea is somehow special and should not be returned to Ukraine, as any other part of our territory, you have to know one thing: Ukraine categorically disagrees with these statements,” he said at the Black Sea Security Conference.

The Kremlin wants Kyiv to acknowledge Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea and also recognize September’s annexation of the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia.

Ukraine has rejected those demands and has said it won’t hold talks with Russia until Moscow’s troops pull back from all occupied territories.

Amid the latest drone strike against Crimea, Russia’s Security Council Deputy Chairman and former president Dmitry Medvedev called for a “maximum military defeat” of Ukrainian forces.

The Russian politician commented, in particular, on Kyiv’s statements about the need for new arms deliveries and the intention to take back Crimea.

“What is it? The contradictory gloom of the drug-permeated conscience? Delirium of uncertainty? Pressure on its patrons? General persisting paranoia? No doubt, all this together,” he said on his Telegram channel on Saturday morning.

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev speaks to the Russian media near Moscow, Russia, on March 23, 2023. (Ekaterina Shtukina/Sputnik Pool Photo via AP)

The response, according to Medvedev, must be “the mass destruction of the personnel and military equipment involved by the Neo-Nazi regime in the counteroffensive, with a maximum military defeat inflicted on Ukrainian troops.”

The Kremlin has repeatedly referred to Kyiv’s political leadership as “Neo-Nazis” and has said the purpose of its so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine is to “de-militarize and de-Nazify” the country.

“A full rout of the enemy and the final deposition of the Neo-Nazi Kiev regime with its full de-militarization on entire Ukrainian territory,” he added, saying that unless Russia defeats Ukrainian forces resoundingly, the war would drag on for a long time.

Medvedev, a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has made hawkish comments about the Russia-Ukraine conflict in the past, including issuing repeated warnings that Moscow is prepared to use nuclear weapons if its territorial integrity is threatened.

Meanwhile, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, said in mid-April that Ukraine would “test and use” any non-banned weapons to liberate its territory, including Crimea.

Western allies have provided Kyiv with key military support, including battle tanks and armored vehicles, but they’ve stopped short of providing heavier weapons like long-range missiles and F-16 fighter jets that Ukraine has been asking for.