Ukraine update: At least 9 Russian warplanes destroyed in Crimea blast; Russia struggles to replenish troops

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


Officials in Ukraine said Wednesday that a string of powerful explosions at a Russian air base in Crimea destroyed nine warplanes, though Kyiv has stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility for what appears to have been a targeted attack.

Reuters reported that satellite images released Thursday show that at least nine Russian warplanes were destroyed in the blasts while others appear to have sustained varying degrees of damage.

Military analysts said that Russia’s claim that the explosions resulted from a safety violation that caused ammunition to detonate does not correlate with satellite evidence and that a missile strike by Ukrainian forces is more likely the cause. The possibility that Kyiv has obtained long-range missile capability could potentially change the course of the war, according to analysts. One thing is certain: an attack on Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, would signify a significant escalation in the conflict, according to experts. 

Russia struggles to replenish troops

An Associated Press report that inmates in a St. Petersburg penal colony were offered amnesty if they agreed to join the Russian army has further fueled speculation that the Kremlin is struggling to replenish troops as the war in Ukraine enters its sixth month.

Analysts have said that Moscow’s recent heavy losses alongside reports that Russian soldiers are refusing to fight and are abandoning their posts have resulted in a clandestine recruitment campaign to mitigate the manpower shortage that includes recruiting prisoners.

“We’re seeing a huge outflow of people who want to leave the war zone — those who have been serving for a long time and those who have signed a contract just recently,” said Alexei Tabalov, a lawyer who runs the Conscript’s School legal aid group.

The group has reported numerous requests from Russian troops seeking to end their contracts.

Tabalov said “I personally get the impression that everyone who can is ready to run away,” in an interview with The Associated Press. He added that the “[Russian] Defense Ministry is digging deep to find those it can persuade to serve.”

Since its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has yet to announce a full-blown mobilization of its troops, which some believe would be a highly unpopular move on the part of President Vladimir Putin.

For its part, Moscow’s Defense Ministry denies that any “mobilization activities” are taking place. Meanwhile, billboards and advertisements have been plastered throughout Russian cities offering handsome salaries and bonuses to men who enlist while mobile recruiting centers have popped up in multiple locations, according to the report.