Large Fuel Tank Fire Burns in Crimea After Suspected Drone Attack

A fuel depot in the port city of Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea was engulfed in an enormous fire early Saturday, which a local Kremlin-appointed official said was caused by a drone strike.

The city on the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014, is home to the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet and is important to its dominance in the sea. Preliminary information indicated that the fire was caused by a drone, the Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, wrote on the Telegram messaging app. He did not say who might have been behind an attack.

Russian officials have blamed Ukrainian forces for repeated drone strikes on Sevastopol, on the peninsula’s southwestern tip. Ukraine typically maintains a policy of strategic ambiguity about strikes in Crimea.

Photographs and video footage posted online, including by the governor, showed a column of dark smoke spewing into the sky and spreading across the surrounding areas.

The fire at Kazachya Bay was burning an area of about 10,000 square feet, Mr. Razvozhaev said. He said that there were no casualties and that no civilian structures had been threatened, but that the blaze was difficult to contain because of the large volume of fuel that was burning.

The Crimean Peninsula has been a staging ground for other attacks and an increasingly attractive target for Ukraine — especially in the run-up to a widely anticipated counteroffensive.

While the details of that campaign are a closely guarded secret, military analysts predict that Ukraine might be looking to drive a wedge through Russian-occupied territory along the southern coasts of the Black and Azov Seas, near Crimea.

  • Uman attack: Rescuers were still combing the rubble in the central Ukrainian city of Uman on Saturday after a Russian strike there a day earlier killed 23 people, including five children. Officials said that the rescue operation had been going on for more than 30 hours.

  • Russian shelling: In Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, shelling in the town of Bilozerka hit a hospital and several private homes, killing a 57-year-old woman in her own home and injuring three more people, the regional military administration said on Friday evening.

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