A massive fire has erupted at an oil depot in Crimea after it was hit by two of Ukraine’s drones, according to a Russia-appointed official in the region.
The incident is the latest in a series of attacks on the annexed peninsula as Russia braces for an expected Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-installed governor of the Black Sea peninsula’s port city of Sevastopol, posted videos and photos of the blaze on his Telegram channel.
Mr Razvozhayev said the fire at the city’s harbour 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.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that most of the world considered illegal.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview this week that his country will seek to reclaim the peninsula in the upcoming counter-offensive.
The incident comes a day after Russia fired more than 20 cruise missiles and two drones at Ukraine, killing at least 23 people.
Almost all of the victims died when two missiles hit an apartment building in the city of Uman, located in central Ukraine.
Five children were among the dead, Ukrainian interior minister Ihor Klymenko said on Saturday, adding that 22 out of 23 bodies have been identified. One woman remained missing.
Russian forces launched more drones at Ukraine overnight. Ukraine’s Air Force Command said two Iranian-made self-exploding Shahed drones were intercepted and a reconnaissance drone was shot down on Saturday morning.
Mr Razvozhayev said the oil reservoir fire did not cause any casualties and would not hinder fuel supplies in Sevastopol.
The city has been subject to regular attack attempts with drones, especially in recent weeks.
Earlier this week, Mr Razvozhayev reported that the Russian military destroyed a Ukrainian sea drone that attempted to attack the harbour and another one blew up, shattering windows in several apartment buildings, but not inflicting any other damage.
Ukraine’s military intelligence spokesperson, Andriy Yusov, told the RBC Ukraine news site on Saturday that the oil depot fire was “God’s punishment” for “the murdered civilians in Uman, including five children”.
He said that more than 10 tanks containing oil products for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet were destroyed in Sevastopol, but stopped short of acknowledging Ukraine’s responsibility for a drone attack.
After previous attacks on Crimea, Kyiv also would not openly claim responsibility, emphasising however that the country had the right to strike any target in response to Russian aggression.