A drone strike caused a fire at a fuel storage facility in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, sending a vast column of black smoke into the sky before it was extinguished, the city’s Moscow-installed governor said on Saturday.
Experts examined the site and “it became clear that only one drone was able to reach the oil reservoir”, Mikhail Razvozhaev said on the Telegram messaging app, adding that no one had been injured in the fire.
Another drone was downed, its wreckage found on the shore near the terminal, Razvozhaev added.
A Ukrainian military intelligence official said more than 10 tanks of oil products with a capacity of about 40,000 tonnes intended for use by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet were destroyed, RBC Ukraine reported.
The official, Andriy Yusov, did not claim that Ukraine was responsible for the explosion in comments reported by RBC, instead describing the blast as “God’s punishment” for a Russian strike on a Ukrainian city on Friday.
“This punishment will be long-lasting. In the near future, it is better for all residents of temporarily occupied Crimea not to be near military facilities and facilities that provide for the aggressor’s army,” RBC quoted Yusov as saying.
Ukrainian officials do not usually claim responsibility for explosions at military sites in Crimea, although they sometimes celebrate them using euphemistic language.
A spokesperson for Ukraine’s armed forces said earlier he did not have any information to suggest Ukraine was responsible for the fire.
Ukraine lacks longer-range missiles that can reach targets in places such as Sevastopol, but has been developing drones throughout the war to overcome this hurdle.
Since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last February, Moscow has accused Kyiv of sending waves of aerial and seaborne drones to attack Crimea.
Ukraine has said that control of all its legal territory, including Crimea – the peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014 – is a key condition for any peace deal.
Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-appointed head of Crimea, said on Telegram that air defence and electronic warfare forces on Saturday shot down two drones over the region.
“There are no casualties or destruction,” he said.