April 30, 2023 | 3:11 p.m
Saturday’s massive fire at an oil depot in Russian-occupied Sevastopol was an attack on Russian logistics and part of Ukraine’s “preparations” for a major counter-offensive.
Russian operations in Crimea have been undermined by the offensive, a military official said Sunday, as Ukraine’s military ramps up its much-anticipated spring offensive.
“This work is a preparation for the broad, full-scale attack that everyone expects,” said Natalia Humenyuk, a spokeswoman for the Southern Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Ukrainska told Pravta.
Mikhail Rasvozhayev, the governor of the Moscow-based port city of Sevastopol, posted videos and photos on his Telegram channel on Saturday morning of a huge cloud of black smoke billowing over the fire.
The head of the illegitimate Russian occupation government in Sevastopol later blamed a drone strike for a large-scale fire at an oil reserve in Kochacha Bay.
“A fuel tank is on fire near Manganari Brothers Street in Kochacha Bay area. According to preliminary information, the fire was caused by an unmanned aerial vehicle strike,” Rasvosev wrote in Telegram.
Razvozayev said the fire was deemed too dangerous based on the difficulty of controlling the massive flames.
He later wrote in Telegram that a drone managed to cause a huge fire, which was extinguished by Saturday evening.
Experts on the scene determined that only one drone had reached the facility, while the wreckage of a second was found on shore near the terminal.
Following the fire, families of Russian military personnel began evacuating people from the occupied peninsula. Kyiv Independent reported.
Andriy Yusov, a Ukrainian military intelligence officer, said more than 10 oil tankers intended for Russia’s Black Sea fleet were destroyed in Sevastopol.
Yusov, however, did not blame Ukraine for Saturday’s blasts, but said the blasts were “God’s punishment” for Russian missile and drone attacks on several Ukrainian cities on Friday.
At least 25 people were killed in those attacks, six of them children.
Rasvozayev said no one was injured in the fire and that the attack would not affect fuel supplies in Sevastopol.
A day earlier, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Ukraine’s preparations for an expected counterattack were “complete” as the military completed training with weapons supplied by Ukraine’s Western allies.
“Equipment has been announced, prepared and partially delivered. Training programs are in the final stages of equipment. The crew will come with it (to Ukraine) when the time and place are decided,” Reznikov told a press conference on Friday.
“But let’s put it this way: We’re ready at a higher percentage,” he said.
When and where to launch a counterattack will be taken by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Ukraine has been teasing a counteroffensive for months now, hoping that retaking its territory, including Crimea, which has been illegally occupied by Russia since 2014, would quickly end the war.