ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 144

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Russia says Ukrainian drones strike oil depot in annexed Crimea, sparking huge fire

Authorities in Moscow-controlled region say four oil tanks in Sevastopol burned down, two other drones downed; no injuries reported

Smoke and flames rise from a burning fuel tank in Sevastopol, Crimea, on April 29, 2023. (Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev telegram channel via AP)
Smoke and flames rise from a burning fuel tank in Sevastopol, Crimea, on April 29, 2023. (Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev telegram channel via AP)

A massive fire erupted at an oil depot in Crimea after it was hit by two of Ukraine’s drones, a Russia-appointed official there reported Saturday, the latest in a series of attacks on the annexed peninsula as Russia braces for an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-installed governor of Sevastopol, a port city in Crimea, posted videos and photos of the blaze on his Telegram channel.

Razvozhayev said the fire at the city’s harbor was assigned the highest ranking in terms of how complicated it will be to extinguish. However, he reported that the open blaze had been contained.

Razvozhayev said the oil depot was attacked by “two enemy drones,” and four oil tanks burned down. A third drone was shot down from the sky, and one more was deactivated through radio-electronic means, according to Crimea’s Moscow-appointed governor, Sergei Aksyonov.

Sevastopol is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and has been hit by a series of drone attacks since the Kremlin’s Ukraine invasion launched last year.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that most of the world considered illegal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his country is seeking to reclaim the peninsula during Russia’s current full-scale invasion.

Razvozhayev said the fire’s size was “around 1,000 square meters” and published images of huge clouds of smoke rising into the air.

He called on Crimeans to “remain calm” and in a later post said “nobody was hurt.” He said authorities had “the situation under control” and said there was no threat to civilian infrastructure.

In this handout photo taken from video released by the Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev telegram channel on April 29, 2023, smoke and flame rise from a burning fuel tank in Sevastopol, Crimea (Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev telegram channel via AP)

Earlier this week, Russia said it had “repelled” a drone attack on the port.

The incident came a day after Russia fired more than 20 cruise missiles and two drones at Ukraine, killing at least 23 people, including three children.

Almost all of the victims died when two missiles slammed into an apartment building in Uman, a city located around 215 kilometers (134 miles) south of Kyiv that houses Rabbi Nachman of Breslov’s gravesite, a popular pilgrimage site for Hasidic Jews.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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