At least 9 Russian military aircraft have been destroyed by several large explosions at the Saki military base in Novofedorivka on the western coast of Crimea, the Ukrainian Air Force said on Wednesday.
The daylight attack, which triggered 10 or more explosions at Saki air base, home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s 43rd Independent Naval Attack Aviation Regiment, burned to the ground as many as eight Su-27 fighters, four Su-30 fighter-bombers, five Su-24 bombers, six Mi-8 helicopters and a unique Il-20 telemetry aircraft, according to a Russian source.
A video from the tarmac in the hours following the attack depicts one destroyed Su-24. Commercial satellite imagery from Wednesday seems to confirm eight Su-24 losses plus five Su-27/30 losses. The Ukrainian defense ministry for its part claimed its destroyed nine Russian planes Tuesday.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that “aviation ammunition detonated” at the Novofedorovka airbase, which led to explosions, and the equipment in the city was not damaged.
Russian tourists holidaying on beaches nearby could be seen leaving in fear. It is one of few occasions that the peninsula, occupied by Russia since 2014, has been directly affected by the latest fighting. Local people told one Russian news site that explosions went on for an hour.
Later, videos appear directly from the airbase, which shows a central apron of the Saki air base with burnt-out Su-24s and cars of the personnel of the base itself.
A Ukrainian military official with knowledge of the situation told The New York Times that Ukrainian forces were behind the explosion.
“This was an air base from which planes regularly took off for attacks against our forces in the southern theater,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military matters. The official would not tell the Times what type of weapon used in the attack, saying only that” a device exclusively of Ukrainian manufacture was used.”