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At least two explosions on Tuesday destroyed at least seven Russian aircrafts at an air base in Russian-annexed Crimea, a new satellite image from Planet Labs shows.
The cause of the explosion is still unknown. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense says it could not determine the cause, while the Russian Ministry of Defense said the blasts were caused by detonated aviation ammunition but did not reveal how it had been detonated.
A satellite image from Aug. 9 shows several fighter jets sitting inside earthen berm bays in the Saki Air Base. The satellite image from Aug. 10, after the explosion, shows the charred remains of at least seven aircrafts in the earthen berms.
The fate of the aircraft sitting on the flightline is unclear from the satellite image. Additional aircraft on the flightline and tarmac appear unharmed.
At least four craters are seen in this area of the base. In the area around the earthen berms and flightline, there is a noticeable burn mark and scarred vegetation.
The amount of destroyed planes on Tuesday may wind up making it one of the most destructive days for Russian Air Force aircraft since World War II, including the Soviet-era. The little available data on military aircraft losses during the Soviet era and modern Russia era do not indicate such substantial losses from a single incident, on a single day.
The explosion killed at least one person, and injured at least nine, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health of Crimea.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and considers Crimea part of its territory. Kyiv and its allies do not recognize the annexation and consider the peninsula Ukrainian territory under Russian occupation.
Ukrainian forces have hit an industrial site in the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk, causing a fire and an ammonia leak, the head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Territorial Defense said in a Telegram post.
“As a result of the shelling of the territory of the Donetsk brewery located in the Kalininskyi district of the city, an ammonia leak occurred,” the post said. “The affected area is 2 kilometers (more than 1 mile).”.
The state emergency services of the DPR said in an update that at least one person has died and two were injured following the hit.
“At the time of the accident there were 32 people on the brewery's grounds. According to preliminary information, one person died and two were injured,” they said in a statement.
They said the fire was “still being extinguished.”
“At the moment the MES Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection Group is conducting investigation of the area to determine the location of the ammonia leak and the maximum permissible concentration levels,” they added.
The state emergency services of the DPR is also warning people to remain indoors.
“The population must be inside the premises. Take measures for additional sealing of your apartments (houses), and premises. Breathe through cotton-gauze bandages moistened with a 5% solution of citric or acetic acid,” it said in a Telegram post.
“Tell your neighbors about the information you receive. Help the elderly, the sick, and children as needed,” the post also read
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the country’s military will respond to Russia’s shelling of Marhanets, which killed at least 13 people and injured another 10.
“The Armed Forces of Ukraine, our intelligence, and our law enforcement agencies will not leave today's Russian shelling of the Dnipropetrovsk region unanswered,” Zelensky said in his nightly address on Wednesday.
The Ukrainian president went on to say the quickest way to end the war would be to inflict as many casualties as possible on Russia.
“The question of time actually directly depends on the question of the losses that Russia will suffer,” he said. “The more losses the occupiers have, the sooner we will be able to liberate our land and guarantee Ukraine's security.”
“This is what everyone who defends our state and helps Ukraine should think about: how to inflict the greatest possible losses on the occupiers so that the time of the war is shorter,” he added.
Zelensky went on to reiterate the Ukraine would liberate the entire country from Russian occupation.
“We expelled the Russian army from the northern regions. We expelled the invaders from our Zmiinyi island. They already feel that the time has come to flee from Kherson and from the south of our country in general,” he said. “There will be a time when they will flee from the Kharkiv region, from Donbas, from Crimea... And everyone who can help this should help this.”
Heavy rocket fire and artillery attacks hit multiple regions across Ukraine overnight and into Wednesday, but on the main battlefield in the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian military said it has been able to prevent Russian advances toward the towns of Avdiivka and Bakhmut. Ukraine's general staff said Russia had continued to use artillery to try and attack Ukrainian lines.
G7 nations are demanding that Russia give back full control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and other nuclear facilities to Ukraine, amid growing concern from international organizations that nearby fighting could lead to catastrophic consequences.
Meanwhile, the European Union has banned imports on Russian coal, starting Wednesday.
Here are the top headlines to know:
- Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant: G7 nations are concerned about the recent artillery and rocket fire around the nuclear plant. The countries said in a joint statement Wednesday that it raises the risk "of a nuclear accident or incident" and endangers "the population of Ukraine, neighboring states and the international community."
- Shelling in Donetsk region: At least seven people were killed as a result of heavy shelling by Russian forces on the Donetsk region town of Bakhmut, the regional prosecutor’s office said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. According to the prosecutor’s office, another six people were injured by land mines or suffered shrapnel wounds. Overnight, shelling by Russian forces killed at least 13 people and critically wounded five others in Ukraine’s central Dnipropetrovsk region.
- Ukraine reports holding back Russian progress in Donetsk: The Ukrainian military says it has been able to prevent Russian advances toward the Donetsk towns of Avdiivka and Bakhmut, as well as near the city of Kharkiv, its general staff said in an update on Wednesday evening. Additionally, a senior Ukrainian commander has said the goal is to liberate the Kherson region by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Pro-Russian separatist forces say they have entered the Donetsk towns of Soledar and Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, the spokesperson for the militia of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) told Russian broadcasters on Wednesday.
- Claims about Ukraine's Western weapons: The militia of the DPR believes Ukraine has been given missiles with up to 150 kilometers (about 93 miles) of range for the HIMARS Multiple Launch Rocket systems (MLRS), the spokesperson for the DPR militia told Russian state broadcaster Ria Novosti. CNN cannot independently verify the claims but, when the United States first provided Ukraine with the HIMARS system, US officials said Kyiv would be supplied with rockets with a range between 70 kilometers (more than 43 miles) to 80 kilometers (nearly 50 miles).
- Events in Crimea: Russian forces are no longer able to use the railway line linking Crimea with the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, which the Russians have occupied since the early days of the invasion, a Ukraine official said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said annexed Crimea must be freed to end the war with Russia.
- Grain exports: Another bulk carrier has arrived in Ukraine to help export grain from the war-afflicted country, according to Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov. It’s the second carrier to arrive since a deal to facilitate cereal exports from the country was struck in Istanbul last month.
- Oil pipeline deliveries resume: Supplies of Russian oil to Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia through the Druzhba pipeline resumed on Wednesday after being suspended due to sanctions restrictions imposed by the European Union, Russian oil firm Transneft said. The company said the Hungarian energy group paid the fee for use of the Ukrainian section of the line.
- EU ban on Russian coal comes into force: A European Union ban on imports of Russian coal began today. All forms of Russian coal are banned from the European Union, a move that the European Commission said would affect about 8 billion euros worth of Russian exports per year.
Pro-Russian separatist forces say they have entered the Donetsk towns of Soledar and Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, the spokesperson for the militia of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) told Russian broadcasters on Wednesday.
“At the moment, in Soledar and Artemivsk (Bakhmut in Ukrainian), we entered the border of the city, to the industrial zone where the fighting is going on,” Basurin said.
Basurin added DPR forces had surrounded Avdiivka and were in control of most of Pisky and Marinka.
“In the area of Pisky, we control this settlement, but we do not yet control it completely, we do not control it in full. Marinka, we control 2/3 of the settlement,” he said. “No one enters Avdiivka and at the moment no one is going to do it. It will be surrounded because there are certain advances of our forces and means to the north of this settlement, in order to surround it later.”
“Those Ukrainian soldiers who remain in the city will be captured or die. Because the choice is theirs: stay alive or die,” he concluded.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ukrainian forces said they had repelled Russian assaults near Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
The interim coordinator for the Black Sea grain deal says the program is off to a "good start."
Frederick Kenney, interim coordinator for the UN at the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) for the Black Sea initiative, says there has been no illegal contraband found in any of the shipments of grain from Ukraine.
The coordinator spoke by video link from Istanbul to UN reporters in New York.
He praised the deal members for cooperating. He cited Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the UN in keeping the 120-day deal working successfully. Kenney said today saw the most shipment traffic. He said three ships were coming out of Ukraine and two were outbound.
Kenney reported getting many phone calls from prospective shippers interested in participating, but said the grain arrangement is in its "early days."
The Ukrainian military says it has been able to prevent Russian advances toward the Donetsk towns of Avdiivka and Bakhmut, as well as near the city of Kharkiv, its general staff said in an update on Wednesday evening.
“[Russia] tried to advance in the areas of the settlements of Bakhmut, Kodema, Spirne, Yakovlivka, and Soledar with offensive and assault actions, it did not succeed, it withdrew,” the general staff said. “The enemy carried out offensive actions in the directions of Avdiivka and Pisky, received a worthy repulse, and withdrew.”
The general staff said Russia had continued to use artillery to try and attack Ukrainian lines.
“With the aim of displacing Ukrainian units from the occupied borders, the enemy used barrel, rocket artillery, and tanks,” it said, accusing Moscow of targeting civilian infrastructure.
Reconnaissance with UAVs and some airstrikes were also reported across the eastern frontline.
The Ukrainian military said Russian forces also tried to advance on certain positions around Kharkiv in order to “improve their tactical position,” but failed.
“Ukrainian soldiers inflicted significant losses on the invaders and forced them to flee back,” it said. “In the Kharkiv direction, the enemy actively conducted aerial reconnaissance by UAVs. It devotes significant efforts to improving the logistical support of units operating in this direction.”
In the Southern flank, Russian forces continued to focus on defending their positions with some occasional air and land-based reconnaissance assaults, the General Staff concluded.
Another bulk carrier has arrived in Ukraine to help export grain from the war-afflicted country, according to Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.
It's the second carrier to arrive since a deal to facilitate cereal exports from the country was struck in Istanbul last month.
“The 2nd bulk carrier arrived at the port of Chornomorsk for loading,” Kubrakov tweeted on Wednesday. “OSPREY S is ready to export 30,000 thousand tons of corn. Let’s keep working!”
More background: Russia had been blocking maritime access to Ukraine's Black Sea ports, meaning that millions of tons of Ukrainian grain wasn't exported to the many countries that rely on it.
The M/V Razoni — the first grain ship to leave Ukraine since the early days of the war — departed the Black Sea port of Odesa on August 1, carrying more than 26,000 metric tons of corn under the UN-brokered deal. But a buyer in Lebanon rejected it due to delayed delivery, according to a statement from the country's Ukrainian embassy.
Ukrainian officials said they aim increase grain shipments to three to five vessels per day within the next two weeks.