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Blasts rock Russian airbase in annexed Crimea

AT

Kabul: One person has been killed after blasts rocked a military base in Crimea, the head of the regional administration there said.

Sergei Aksyonov wrote on social media that the blasts had taken place at the Saky military base near Novofedorivka on the peninsula’s western coast.

Russia’s defence ministry later said ammunition was detonated, but this has not been independently verified.

The ministry said there was no “fire impact” on the ammunition storage area, Russia’s state-run Ria news agency reports.

The Ukrainian peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014 is a popular destination with Russian tourists.

Local witnesses told the Reuters agency that they heard at least 12 blasts, beginning at about 15:20 local time (12:20 GMT).

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, after a referendum which was seen as illegitimate by the international community.

If it emerges Ukraine was responsible for this attack, that would be a significant escalation. It would be the first major attack on a target inside Crimea proper.

Crimea is internationally recognised as Ukrainian territory, but Russia has ruled the peninsula for eight years and Russian state structures and military facilities are very well established.

And there are fears that if the Ukrainians begin systematically attacking Russian targets inside Crimea, then the Russian response could be very serious indeed. Last month, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of the Security Council, said that if Crimea were attacked, then “Judgement Day will instantly await all those [involved]. It will be very fast and very hard.”

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