MOSCOW (Reuters) – An ammunition depot in Russia-annexed Crimea exploded on Tuesday, injuring two people and disrupting rail traffic between the peninsula and the rest of southern Ukraine and Russia, the top official said. the region backed by Russia.
Footage from Russian state television showed a burning electrical substation near the town of Dzhankoi in Crimea and a series of repeated large explosions on the horizon which authorities say were caused by munitions that exploded at a military base.
Sergei Aksyonov, the top Russian official in Crimea, told state television he did not want to talk about what might have caused the explosions, something he said was being investigated.
He said around 2,000 residents had been evacuated from the nearest village beyond a 5 km (3.1 mile) perimeter.
Russia has used Crimea to reinforce its troops fighting in what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine with military equipment. Reported damage to the peninsula’s rail network on Tuesday could disrupt that process.
Russian news agency RIA said seven passenger trains were delayed and rail traffic on part of the line in northern Crimea was suspended. Aksyonov said a bus service would be set up to allow people to continue their journey.
The incident follows a series of explosions last week at a Russian air base in Crimea which Ukrainian officials said was part of some sort of special operation, but which Moscow said was an accident.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy accuses Russia of waging an imperial-style unprovoked war of aggression. He said his armed forces were determined to liberate territory seized by Russian troops since February 24 and spoke of taking back Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014 after a referendum not recognized by the West.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak posted a cryptic Tweet on Tuesday that hinted at possible Ukrainian involvement in Tuesday’s explosions, but did not confirm such a role.
“(The) morning near Dzhankoi began with explosions,” Podolyak wrote.
“A reminder: Crimea (as a) normal country is about the Black Sea, mountains, recreation and tourism, but Russian-occupied Crimea is about warehouse explosions and high risk of death for invaders and thieves. Demilitarization in action.”
Russia cites the demilitarization of Ukraine as one of its main goals, which it says is necessary to preemptively ensure its own security in the face of what it said is the alliance’s uncontrolled expansion. Western NATO military.