The Russian-appointed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, said an “enemy” drone had detonated an ammunition depot. He announced the news on his Telegram channel, “As a result of an attack by an enemy drone on the Krasnogvardeisky district, an ammunition depot detonated.”
He also issued an evacuation notice for individuals within five kilometers of the explosion zone. Rail traffic on Crimean railways was halted as a precaution to minimize any further risks. Aksyonov assured residents that emergency workers were present to handle “possible consequences” and told Crimeans to remain calm.
Aksyonov mentioned the attack was “attempted” by Ukraine on infrastructure in the center of the Moscow-annexed region. He reported no casualties and claimed there was only minor damage. However, videos have been circulating on social media showing billowing, dark smoke consuming the area.
A Ukrainian drone hit an ammunition depot in central Crimea on Saturday, sparking an explosion. https://t.co/xNxXD5zxLS
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 22, 2023
Authorities also temporarily seized road traffic across the only bridge that links annexed Crimea to Russia. Moscow-backed Crimean government stated over Telegram, “Car traffic across the Crimea bridge is temporarily closed.” The halted traffic was allowed to resume shortly after the announcement.
Aksyonov didn’t give details regarding what Kyiv tried to hit, but Crimea has remained a target throughout Russia’s 17-month Ukraine offensive. Attacks have been more frequent over recent weeks.
In addition to the Crimean ammunition depot explosion, reports suggest that around three cluster bombs were deployed by Kyiv forces during a large-scale attack on Zhuravlevka. Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said Saturday that 21 artillery shells and ten mortar rounds were fired at the village.
The area was also targeted with a kamikaze drone, but Gladkov said the village experienced no casualties or damage. Smaller artillery, mortar and drone attacks targeted at least a dozen other settlements in the Belgorod Region on the same day.
Zhuravlevka was attacked just two weeks after the U.S. was scrutinized for sending the weapons to Ukraine. In Illek-Penkovka, 12 households were affected by an explosion, and many buildings in the village were damaged, but injuries were avoided.
The U.S. announced the delivery of cluster munitions to Ukraine earlier this month. President Joe Biden described it as a necessary stopgap measure because of the shortage of 155 mm artillery rounds.
Cluster munitions contain multiple bombs dispersed over a large area, and this type of munition is banned in more than 120 countries due to its controversial nature. However, the U.S., Ukraine and Russia are not signatories of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.