New satellite photos of explosions at a Russian air base in Crimea compare the condition of the facility as it existed on May 16 and how it looked on August 11. The explosions at the air base in Russia-annexed Crimea this week have been explained by Moscow as an accident but experts say satellite imagery points to a likely attack by Ukrainian forces.
Russia said the air base was not targeted by an attack, but new satellite images appear to contradict that.
The images show the base was “hit with something” and at least nine planes were destroyed, according to analyst Oliver Alexander, news agency AFP reported. “If it was an accident, it would have required 4-5 people throwing cigarettes on the same spot or hitting bombs with a hammer — incredibly unlikely,” Mr Alexander said.
The exact cause of the explosions – special forces sabotage or missile strike – is still unclear.
Eliot Higgins, a founder of the investigative journalism group Bellingcat, said the images showed three craters and evidence of “a massive fire across the base”. “One way to interpret those craters is precise strikes from a long-range munition,” he tweeted.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 in the wake of massive nationwide street demonstrations that led to the ouster of a Kremlin-friendly President.
Those protests precipitated fighting between the army and Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, which would lay the groundwork for Moscow’s full-scale assault on February 24 this year.