Zelenskyy says ‘we’ll come back’ to Crimea after blasts rock Russian base – Reuters

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Tuesday that the war with Moscow “began with Crimea and must end with Crimea”, after explosions rocked a Russian air base on the peninsula, killing one and injuring others.

“Today a lot of attention is paid to the subject of Crimea. And rightly so. Because Crimea is Ukrainian and we will never give it up,”Zelenskyy said in a Telegram video. “This Russian war against Ukraine and against all of free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea – with its liberation. Today, it is impossible to say when this will happen. But we are constantly adding the necessary elements to the formula for the liberation of Crimea… I know that we will return to Ukrainian Crimea.

ButZelenskyy refrained from responding directly to the outbursts, and his senior adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, denied that Kyiv had anything to do with them. When asked if Ukraine was responsible, Podolyak told online TV channel Rain: “Of course not. What do we have to do with it? Podolyak hinted that partisan saboteurs may have been behind the explosions.

Moscow, meanwhile, denied that the explosions were attacks, instead blaming “violations of fire safety rules” and the accidental detonation of stored munitions, according to Russian media.

“Only breaches of fire safety rules are considered to be an essential cause of the explosion of several munitions. There is no sign or evidence that this was done deliberately,” Russian news agency TASS said, citing a Defense Ministry source.

Moscow annexed Crimea to Ukraine in 2014 and used it to launch its full-scale invasion of its neighbor in February. But if Ukraine strikes the base, it would mark an escalation in the war as the first known major attack on a Russian military site in Crimea.

From a strategic perspective, hitting jets at an airbase in Crimea would support a major Ukrainian counteroffensive towards the southern city of Kherson, but also raises questions about Russia’s reaction. Only last month, former President Dmitry Medvedev issued apocalyptic warnings of Russian retaliation if Crimea were attacked. Trying to play down the meaning of a big setback on Tuesday, Russian authorities denied the loss of any planes.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry sarcastically noted on Facebook that it could not verify the cause of the explosions, “but once again draws attention to fire safety rules and a ban on smoking in uncertified places. ”. He added: “We cannot rule out that the occupants ‘accidentally’ find a ‘badge’, a ‘business card’ or even a ‘DNA’.”

He also wrote about Twitter: “The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine would like to remind everyone that the presence of occupation troops on the territory of Ukrainian Crimea is not compatible with the peak tourist season.”

This article has been updated.

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