Deadly Drone strikes Crimean Ammo depot; casualties confirmed


A Ukrainian drone strike on Saturday caused a massive explosion at an ammunition depot in Russia-annexed Crimea, forcing the evacuation of nearby homes in the latest attack since Moscow cancelled a landmark grain deal amid Kyiv’s grinding efforts to retake its occupied territories.
The attack on the depot in central Crimea sent huge plumes of black smoke skyward and came five days after Ukraine struck a key bridge that links Russia to the peninsula it illegally annexed in 2014 and after Moscow suspended a wartime deal that allowed Ukraine to safely export its grain through the Black Sea.
Sergey Aksyonov, the Kremlin-appointed head of Crimea, said in a Telegram post that there were no immediate reports of casualties from the strike, but that authorities were evacuating civilians within a 5-kilometer (3-mile) radius of the blast site. The Ukrainian military took credit for the strike, saying it destroyed an oil depot and Russian military warehouses in Oktyabrske, in the Krasnohvardiiske region of Crimea, though without specifying which weapons it used. A Crimean news channel posted videos Saturday showing plumes of smoke billowing above rooftops and fields near Oktyabrske, a small settlement next to an oil depot and a small military airport, as loud explosions rumbled in the background.
The strike came during a week in which Ukraine attacked the Kerch Bridge and Russia, in what it described as “retribution” for the bridge attack, bombarded southern Ukrainian port cities, damaging critical infrastructure including grain and oil terminals.
Speaking at the Aspen security forum via video link, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the bridge a legitimate target for Ukraine, noting that Russia has used it to ferry military supplies and it must be “neutralised”. In a video address to the nation later on Saturday, Zelenskyy said he had a phone call with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss “our steps to unblock and ensure the stable operation of the grain corridor” following Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal. Zelenskyy said they agreed to hold a meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Council in the nearest days for consultations on the issue. “We can overcome the security crisis in the Black Sea,” he said. As fierce fighting continues in Ukraine’s bid to retake territory from Russia, Russian shelling killed at least two civilians and wounded four others on Saturday, Ukrainian officials reported.