Pro-Russian authorities in Crimea accused Ukraine on Saturday of having blown up an ammunition depot with drones, causing the evacuation of the surrounding population and the suspension of rail traffic in this annexed peninsula.
This new attack comes a few days after an assault on the Kerch bridge, the only structure of its kind which connects Crimea to Russia and which is used in particular to transport equipment to the Russian soldiers on the Ukrainian front.
On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to meet his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, a faithful ally of Moscow presented as the mediator between the Kremlin and Yevgeny Prigojine almost a month ago, during the abortive rebellion of Wagner in Russia.
Kiev, which launched a counter-offensive in early June to retake the territories conquered by Moscow, affirms its intention to recover Crimea in particular, which Russia unilaterally attached to its territory in 2014.
Addressing the Aspen Security Forum by videoconference on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ruled that the Kerch Bridge, built according to him in violation of international law, should be “neutralized”.
The governor of Crimea chosen by Moscow, Sergey Aksionov, announced to him on Saturday an “explosion in an ammunition depot following an attack by enemy drones in the Krasnogvardeisky district”, located inland, in the center of the Black Sea peninsula.
“The decision was made to evacuate people living within a radius of five kilometers. In order to minimize the risks, it was also decided to stop rail traffic, ”he added, without further details on the place affected.
Authorities said two trains going from Moscow to Simferopol, Crimea’s main city, and another in the opposite direction were stopped.
The attack also caused a brief suspension of road traffic on the Crimean Bridge, pro-Russian authorities announced on Telegram.
Russian journalist killed
Ukrainian attacks, rarely claimed, have multiplied in recent weeks in this peninsula.
On the night of July 16 to 17, a naval drone attack damaged the Crimean Bridge, already hit in October 2022.
A couple of Russians traveling by car were killed and considerable damage was caused to the road section of the structure.
Vladimir Putin immediately promised “a response” from his army, also calling for “improving the security” of the work.
In addition, the governor of the Russian region of Belgorod, bordering Ukraine and regularly the target of strikes, accused Kiev on Saturday of having bombarded the village of Jouravlevka the day before with cluster munitions.
“In the Belgorod region, 21 artillery and three cluster munitions fires from a multiple rocket launcher were carried out (by the Ukrainian army) on the village of Jouralevka,” Vyacheslav Gladkov said.
The Russian army for its part announced that a journalist from the Russian news agency Ria Novosti, Rostislav Jouravlev, had been killed the same day in a Ukrainian bombardment in the region of Zaporijjia, in the south of Ukraine.
“Units of the Ukrainian armed forces launched an artillery attack against a group of journalists”, “injuring four journalists more or less seriously”, she accused.
Beyond the still intense fighting, the week was mainly marked by a verbal escalation concerning the Black Sea, after Russia’s exit from an international agreement on Ukrainian grain exports.
Moscow and kyiv have alternately warned ships sailing on the Black Sea, warning that they could be targeted if they headed for enemy ports.
On Saturday, Volodymyr Zelensky said he had a telephone conversation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the “unblocking” of the grain corridor in the Black Sea.
” We have […] identified with Mr. Stoltenberg the priority and future steps necessary for the unblocking and sustainable exploitation of the grain corridor in the Black Sea,” the Ukrainian president said on Twitter.