Zelensky: War must end with liberation of Crimea

The war in Ukraine began with Crimea and must end with its liberation, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

Ukraine’s president was speaking after a string of explosions hit a Russian airbase there, killing one person.

Mr Zelensky did not mention Tuesday’s blasts but said: “Crimea is Ukrainian and we will never give it up”.

Russia’s defence ministry said ammunition detonated at the base. Meanwhile, Ukraine denied any responsibility for the explosions.

In a separate development, Ukrainian officials said 13 people were killed in overnight Russian strikes in the central Dnipropetrovsk region, and another one in the Zaporizhzhia region in the south.

Crimea is internationally recognised as part of Ukraine – but the Black Sea peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014 after a referendum which the global community saw as illegitimate. Many Ukrainians saw this as the start of their war with Russia.

On Tuesday, a series of explosions rocked the Saky military base near Novofedorivka, in the west of Crimea – which is near seaside resorts popular with Russian tourists.

Novofedorivka and Saky are about 50km (30 miles) north of the port of Sevastopol, home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which has been leading a blockade of the Ukrainian coastline. The airbase had been used by Russia to launch attacks on targets deep inside Ukraine.

Footage on social media showed beachgoers running as the explosions hit, with witnesses saying they had heard at least 12 blasts. Crimea’s Russian-appointed health department said one civilian had been killed and another eight injured.

Russia’s defence ministry insisted the blasts were down to ammunition that had exploded in a store and that there was no “fire impact” from outside – although this has not been independently verified.

And Ukrainian presidential aide, Mykhailo Podolyak, denied that Ukraine was behind the blasts, telling the Dozhd online television channel: “Of course not. What do we have to do with this?”

Any attack on Crimea by Ukraine would be considered deeply serious by Moscow. Russia sounded a warning last month when ex-President, Dmitry Medvedev, threatened last month that “Judgment Day will instantly await” if Ukraine targeted Crimea. -BBC

Show More
Back to top button