(Kyiv) A drone attack on Saturday caused a huge fire in an oil depot in Crimea annexed by Moscow and occupied cities were bombarded, the day after Kyiv announced that its preparations for a spring offensive were almost complete .
The fire broke out at an oil depot in Sevastopol, the home port of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, local authorities said.
This alleged attack took place as the day before Ukraine said it was ready to launch its spring offensive against Russian forces in order to drive them out of the territories they control.
“A fire is in progress at an oil depot in Kazatchia Bay […]. According to initial information, it was caused by a drone attack,” Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvojayev wrote on Telegram, stressing that “no one was injured.”
Sixty firefighters were dispatched to the scene to fight the fire which is raging over an area of around 1,000 m2 and should not be brought under control until evening, he added.
“The situation is under control,” assured Mr. Razvojayev, saying that “civilian infrastructure is not threatened.”
Quoted by the state-run Ria Novosti news agency, he later told reporters that a total of four oil tanks were damaged and “burned out”.
The Kremlin did not comment on this attack.
Since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine in February 2022, Crimea, a peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, has repeatedly been the target of aerial and naval drone attacks. The most important took place in October 2022.
In mid-April, authorities announced the cancellation of May Day and May 9 celebrations (the official date of the end of World War II in Russia) on the peninsula, citing “security concerns”.
The drone attack came less than 24 hours after Russian cruise missile strikes hit apartment buildings including in Uman, a city in central Ukraine, where at least 23 people were killed.
A total of at least 26 people were killed Friday in multiple Russian strikes on Ukrainian towns.
On Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said six children were among the dead.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the drone attack in Sevastopol, but military intelligence has suggested it was in retaliation after strikes in Uman.
Andriy Yusov, from the intelligence services of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, assured that it was “a retribution from God, especially for the civilians killed in Uman”.
He advised residents of Crimea “to avoid in the near future being near military facilities and facilities supplying the aggressor’s army”.
The governor of Sevastopol for his part called on the inhabitants of the peninsula “to remain calm”.
On Friday, Ukraine said preparations for a spring offensive were nearing completion.
“Preparations are coming to an end,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said of the major attack his country wants to launch to reclaim territories occupied in the east and south by Russia.
In the south, Russian occupation authorities in the part of the Kherson region controlled by Russian forces said the town of Novaya Kakhovka came under “intense artillery fire” on Saturday.
According to authorities backed by Moscow, the power was cut in this city which fell into the hands of Russian forces on the first day of the invasion on February 24, 2022.
Russian forces called on townspeople to “stay calm” and announced that work to restore power would begin “after the shelling ceased”.
The day before, Ukraine had reported that the Russians had shelled the Kherson region and killed a 57-year-old woman in the village of Bilozerka.