Ukraine conflict – day 175: Russia blames saboteurs for Crimea military base blasts in rare admission
A still frame from a smartphone video showing fire and smoke billowing from munitions depot in Crimea on Tuesday. /Marie-Laure Messana /ESN/AFP

A still frame from a smartphone video showing fire and smoke billowing from munitions depot in Crimea on Tuesday. /Marie-Laure Messana /ESN/AFP


• Russia has blamed saboteurs for orchestrating explosions at a military base in Crimea, a rare admission that armed groups loyal to Ukraine are damaging military logistics and supply lines to and from the peninsula. Kyiv has hinted it was responsible for the attack. READ MORE BELOW

• Ukrainian technicians at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, a site which is being regularly hit by shelling, have to work under the barrels of Russian guns and face huge pressure, one of them said, but he added they were staying on to make sure there is no Chornobyl-style disaster. 

• UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will meet Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in Lviv in western Ukraine to discuss the situation at the nuclear power plant, along with finding a political solution to the conflict. Guterres is also set to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and on Friday will visit Odesa on the Black Sea, where grain exports have resumed.

• Two civilians were killed and seven wounded in shelling by Russian forces in the last 24 hours, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region.

• The Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Russian-backed separatist Donetsk region will develop "equally beneficial bilateral cooperation", Donetsk leader Denis Pushilin said in a letter to Kim Jong Un, DPRK state media has reported.

• Russia's economy is set to contract less than expected and inflation will not be as high as projected three months ago, suggesting it is dealing with sanctions better than initially feared.

• German energy giant Uniper has reported heavy first-half losses which it blamed on Russia reducing gas deliveries amid the conflict. The company, which accepted a government rescue package last month, said that it recorded a net loss in the first six months of the year of 12.3 billion euros ($12.5 billion).

• Ukraine's state nuclear power company Energoatom said Russian-based hackers carried out a three-hour attack on its website but had not caused significant problems.

• Kyiv will be able to export 3 million tonnes of grain from its ports in September and may in the future have the capacity to export 4 million tonnes from them monthly, a government official said.

• Estonia has removed a Soviet-era World War II memorial from Narva, a city with a large Russian-speaking minority, with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas accusing Moscow of using such monuments to stir up "tensions and confusion".

A child looks out of the window on an evacuation train from Donbas region to the west of Ukraine, in the train station of Udachnoye. /Anatoli Stepanov/AFP

A child looks out of the window on an evacuation train from Donbas region to the west of Ukraine, in the train station of Udachnoye. /Anatoli Stepanov/AFP


Russia has blamed saboteurs for explosions at one of its military bases in Crimea while Ukraine suggested it was responsible for the attack as its officials said their strategy was to destroy supply lines supporting Russia's advances.

The blasts on Tuesday engulfed an ammunition depot at a military base in the north of the peninsula, stopping trains and forcing the evacuation of 2,000 people from a village, Russian officials said.

More plumes of smoke were later seen at a second Russian military base in central Crimea, according to Russia's Kommersant newspaper. The blasts and smoke followed last week's explosions at a Russian military air base in western Crimea that destroyed eight warplanes.


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Russia's defense ministry said the blasts at the ammunition depot were "a result of sabotage". The Crimean peninsula is a major supply route for its forces in southern Ukraine and the base for its Black Sea fleet.

Ukraine did not confirm or deny responsibility for the explosions though its officials celebrated the attacks.

Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak and chief of staff Andriy Yermak both lauded on social media what they called "demilitarization", an apparent joke referencing the word the Russia government uses to justify its action in Ukraine.

Podolyak told Britain's Guardian newspaper later that Ukraine's strategy was to destroy Russian "logistics, supply lines and ammunition depots and other objects of military infrastructure."

"It's creating a chaos within their own forces," he said.

As Ukraine considers a counter-offensive in the south, the explosions raised the prospect of new dynamics in the six-month-old conflict if Ukraine has capability to strike deeper in Russian-occupied territory or pro-Ukraine groups are having success with guerrilla-style attacks.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Ukrainians to steer clear of Russian military bases and ammunition stores and said the explosions could have various causes, including incompetence.

"But they all mean the same thing - the destruction of the occupiers' logistics, their ammunition, military and other equipment, and command posts, saves the lives of our people," he said in an evening address.

Source(s): AFP ,Reuters

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