More explosions in Russian-controlled areas far from Ukraine’s front lines | Russian-Ukrainian War News

Explosions were reported overnight near military bases deep in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine and within Russian territory itself, as Ukrainian forces appear to be demonstrating their ability to wreak havoc with Moscow’s logistics far behind the lines. from the front

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in televised remarks on Friday that statements by Ukrainian officials about the attack on facilities in Russian-occupied Crimea mark “an escalation of the conflict openly encouraged by the United States and its NATO allies.” ”.

“The deep and open involvement of the United States” in the war in Ukraine “effectively puts the United States on the brink of becoming a party to the conflict,” Ryabkov said.

“We don’t want an escalation, we would like to avoid a situation where the United States becomes a party to the conflict, but so far we haven’t seen that they are willing to take those warnings deeply and seriously,” he said.

In Crimea, the peninsula that Russia seized and annexed in 2014, explosions were reported overnight near an airbase in Belbek, on the southwestern coast near Sevastopol, home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

On the opposite end of the peninsula, the sky also lit up in Kerch, near a massive bridge to Russia, with what Russia said was fire from its own air defenses.

Inside Russia, two villages have been evacuated following explosions at an ammunition depot in Belgorod province, close to the Ukrainian border but more than 100 km (60 miles) from territory controlled by Ukrainian forces.

Residents were evacuated after a fire broke out in an ammunition depot near the village of Timonovo, Belgorod region governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Friday.

About 1,100 people live in the villages of Timonovo and Soloti, but there were no casualties in the fire that broke out Thursday night, the governor said.

Kyiv has cultivated an atmosphere of ambiguity around such incidents by hiding official comments about explosions and fires in Crimea or inside Russia, but also hinting that Ukrainian forces were responsible, using long-range weapons or sabotaging.

Last week, it was reported that nine Russian warplanes were destroyed at an airbase in Crimea, demonstrating both the vulnerability of the Russians and the ability of the Ukrainians to strike deep behind enemy lines.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alluded to attacks by Ukrainian forces behind enemy lines after the explosions in Crimea, which Russia has blamed on “sabotage”.

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CONTROL MAP DAY177_August19
(Al Jazeera)

‘Guerrilla warfare’

Stefan Wolff, a professor of international security at the University of Birmingham, told Al Jazeera that the Ukrainian attacks inside Russian-controlled territory demonstrate Kyiv’s growing military capabilities and the frustration of Moscow’s war effort.

“I think this indicates that Ukraine is now increasingly attacking Russia’s strategic depth when it comes to its supply lines. And this is very important given that Russia is still trying to mount offensives, in particular, around Kharkiv at the moment and in the Donbas area, and also trying to counter the offensive that Ukraine has been mounting in the Kherson region in the south,” Wolff said. he said.

“So cutting off Russian supplies is going to make Russian efforts on all three front lines much more difficult, and that’s obviously a very important development from Ukraine’s perspective.

“I think it’s certainly a new trend that we’ve seen there,” he added.

“But, I think overall it follows a trajectory where we have seen Ukraine using more sophisticated weapons supplied by the West, but also extending their reach into Russian controlled territories through what might be called guerrilla warfare or warfare. partisan. And that is obviously a very worrying thing for Russia, not only in the sense that she could lose control over these territories, but also because it will undermine her overall war effort,” Wolff continued.

“It may also dent Russian hopes that they will be able to hold referendums, as they have announced in the Kherson region, to, in a way, go back on the offensive there and reclaim these territories as independent states or as part of it. From Russia.”

‘It certainly looks bad’

Russian authorities reported that no one was injured in the latest incidents in Crimea or Belgorod. They also said that they had shot down Ukrainian drones in Belbek and Kerch.

“It certainly looks bad, or good, depending on your perspective,” tweeted former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, with video showing huge flames and smoke in the night sky, reportedly from the Russian base in Belbek. Reuters was unable to confirm the authenticity of the video.

Closer to the front lines, Kyiv also announced several overnight attacks behind Russian lines in the southern province of Kherson, including on a bridge at the Kakhovka dam, one of the last routes for Russia to supply thousands of troops on the west bank. of the Dnieper River.

“The Ukrainian armed forces invited the Russians for a magical evening,” Seriy Khlan, a member of the Kherson regional council dissolved by the Russian occupation forces, wrote on Facebook.

Ukraine is hoping that its apparent newfound ability to attack Russian targets behind the front line could turn the tide of the conflict, disrupting the supply lines Moscow needs to support its occupation.

In recent days, he has been warning Russians, for whom Crimea has become a popular summer vacation destination, that no part of the peninsula is safe while it is occupied.

Meanwhile, Russian forces have stepped up their shelling of civilian areas in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, in recent days, in what British intelligence described as an apparent attempt to force Ukraine to keep troops in the area. .

Seventeen people were killed and 42 wounded in two separate Russian attacks there in the past two days, the regional governor said on Thursday. Five more rockets hit the city early Friday, killing at least one person, he said. Moscow denies targeting civilians.

Thousands of people have been killed and millions forced to flee since Russia launched its invasion on February 24, saying it was aimed at demilitarizing Ukraine and protecting Russian-speakers in what President Vladimir Putin called historic Russian land. .

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