The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces claimed responsibility for a series of recent attacks on Russian military bases inside Crimea that took place in August, including a major blast at the Saki airbase that destroyed several Russian warplanes.
Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi made the claim in an op-ed published in Ukrinform that was co-authored with Ukrainian lawmaker Mykhailo Zabrodskyi. The article said that the attacks were carried out with rockets and did not elaborate further.
The op-ed focused on Ukraine’s future war efforts as it prepares for 2023, and the two Ukrainian officials said Russia has distanced its citizens from the fighting, so they don’t “painfully perceive losses.” They pointed to the strikes in Crimea as an example of bringing the fight closer to Russians.
“We are talking about a series of successful rocket strikes against the enemy’s Crimean air bases, first of all, the Saki airfield,” the article reads. A footnote described the August 9 attack on Saki as a “combined strike” that took out 10 Russian warplanes.
For their part, Russia has claimed that the explosions at the Saki airbase were the result of an accident. But Moscow blamed an August 16 attack on a Russian ammunition depot in the northern Dzhankoi district of Crimea on “sabotage.”
Until now, Ukraine had not officially claimed responsibility for the incidents in Crimea, although some officials hinted at Kyiv’s involvement.
The US has voiced its approval for Ukrainian attacks on Crimea, which Russia has controlled since 2014. The Biden administration has said it doesn’t want Ukraine using US-provided weapons on Russian territory, but Crimea is an exception since Washington and Kyiv don’t recognize it as Russian.