Ukraine has signaled Russia that a series of spectacular strikes hundreds of miles into Crimea are only the start of a campaign to reclaim the peninsula, which Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed in 2014, Britain’s The Times newspaper reported.
“These fireworks mean that Crimea is coming back to Ukraine,” Serhiy Bratchuk, the spokesman for the Odesa region’s military administration, told the British news outlet.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and both sides claim the peninsula is legally theirs. In recent weeks, Ukraine has vowed not to give up the fight to reclaim the territory, a promise bolstered by the latest attacks in the region.
Several explosions have rocked Russian facilities in occupied Crimea since August 9, when several powerful blasts hit a Russian air base in western Crimea. According to Ukrainian military officials, nine Russian planes were destroyed in those blasts.
On August 16, an ammunition depot in the Dzankhoy district was hit, and a fire broke out at an electricity transformer station in Dzankoy.
In the following days, blasts and explosions were reported in several Crimean cities, including Kerch, Sevastopol, Yevpatoria, and Bakhchisarai, near military facilities and airfields. The occupying authorities claim to have shot down drones in these areas.
The latest explosions were reported early Monday, once again in Sevastopol. Residents claim that the blasts were so powerful that their walls shook, according to The New Voice of Ukraine (NVU). The blasts were also heard in the nearby towns of Inkerman and Ridne.
The Russian invaders claim that air defenses are operational in Sevastopol and Balaklava, NVU reported.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, told the Washington Post last week that Ukraine intends to continue hitting key targets deep inside Russian-held territory in the coming weeks.
The explosions in occupied Crimea have caused panic among Russian tourists and locals, resulting in major traffic jams at the approaches to the Crimea bridge, which connects Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Crimea to Russia across the Kerch Strait, NVU reported.
Furthermore, following the explosions in Crimea, the Russians began urgently evacuating warplanes and military helicopters, according to Ukrainian intelligence.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told Voices of America that an agreement between his country and the U.S. is being followed.
“We have an agreement with the United States that we will not be using the weapons provided to us by our partners, the United States, to target the territory of the Russian Federation,” he said. “However, if we are talking about de-occupying the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine where our enemies are located, then accordingly, we have no such restrictions.”
Though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and military leaders have recently hinted that the explosions could be part of their planned offensive, Kyiv has not officially claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to Fox News.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, Ukrainian officials have estimated the following losses to Russia’s military forces as follows: