(August 10th) #UkraineWar Update (Day 168) – Multiple #News Sources

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Ukraine war: Crimea airbase badly damaged, satellite images show

August 10th 2022

Satellite images appear to show extensive damage and several destroyed Russian warplanes at a Crimea airbase following explosions earlier this week. The Saky base in the west of Russian-ruled Crimea was rocked by a string of blasts on Tuesday, killing one person. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility – but this new evidence suggests the possibility of a targeted attack. The images, from the US-based Planet Labs, show large areas of scorched earth left from fires that erupted. The base’s main runways seem to be intact, but at least eight aircraft appear to be damaged and destroyed, with several craters clearly visible. Most of them are in a specific area of the base where a large number of planes were parked out in the open – away from the cover of hangars.

The before and after images from Planet Labs, which monitors hundreds of satellite feeds over Ukraine, are the first independent confirmation that the base may have been damaged. Until now, details about the extent of the explosions’ impact have been scarce. But it is still not clear how the base was damaged or by what. Russia insists that the explosions were caused by ammunition exploding in a store because of fire safety rules being flouted. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility – and its defence minister suggested that careless Russian soldiers could be to blame. “I think that Russian military guys in this airbase ruined their very simply known rule: don’t smoke in dangerous places,” said Oleksiy Reznikov. “That’s it.” Ukraine’s air force said about a dozen Russian warplanes were destroyed, although Russia denied that any aircraft had been damaged. These new images suggest that is not true.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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‘We Need to Get Out of Here’: Fear Grips Annexed Crimea After Airbase Attack

August 10th 2022

An apparent Ukrainian attack on a military air base in Russia-controlled Crimea sent people running for cover from a series of powerful blasts, causing shock among locals and tourists at the height of the holiday season. Towering plumes of black smoke were seen rising from the Saki air base in western Crimea on Tuesday afternoon, clearly visible from nearby packed beaches. “There were about 15 explosions. It lasted around 30-40 minutes. Many vacationers were trying to find shelter — some people were hiding behind the trees, children were crying. People were trying to stick together,” said Ksenia Korkina, a Russian visitor to Crimea who witnessed the explosions from a couple of kilometers away. 

If proven to be a Ukrainian attack, it will be the first major Ukrainian strike on Crimea — annexed by Moscow in 2014 — since the start of Russia’s six-month invasion of Ukraine. It is likely to seriously disrupt life on the peninsula, a popular tourism destination thought of until now as safe from the fighting, and bring the war closer to many ordinary Russians. The explosions killed one person and injured 14 others, according to Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-appointed head of Crimea. “The very first explosion was very powerful and strong. The walls and windows were shaking. The sound was deafening and scary,” Korkina told The Moscow Times. Videos published to social media showed Russian holidaymakers gathering their belongings and fleeing the beach after the initial blasts. 

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SOURCE = The Moscow Times

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First on CNN: Russians have begun training on Iranian drones, US believes

August 10th 2022

(CNN)The US believes Russian officials have begun training on drones in Iran over the last several weeks, the latest sign that Russia intends to purchase the systems as the war in Ukraine continues. “During the last several weeks, Russian officials conducted training in Iran as part of the agreement for UAV transfers from Iran to Russia,” a US official told CNN. The official said the intelligence about the training has recently been declassified. CNN has reached out to the Russian embassy in Washington for comment. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said last month that Russia had “no comments on the matter” when asked by reporters about the drones.

CNN first reported last month that a Russian delegation had visited an airfield in central Iran at least twice since June to examine weapons-capable drones, according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan and satellite imagery obtained exclusively by CNN. Iran began showcasing the Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones, also known as UAVs or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, to Russia at Kashan Airfield south of Tehran in June, US officials told CNN. Both types of drones are capable of carrying precision-guided missiles. Sullivan said in July that the US believes Iran intends to sell Russia hundreds of the drones that Russia can use in its war in Ukraine.

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SOURCE = CNN

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Russian propagandist and political operative tasked with setting up Russian TV networks in Kherson Oblast

August 10th 2022

A Russian political operative and propagandist, Aleksandr Malkevich, has been charged with setting up access to TV channels that peddle Russian propaganda within the Russian-occupied territories of Kherson Oblast.

Source: Tamila Tasheva, representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, during a press briefing; press release

Details: Tasheva said that Russian-occupied Crimea is playing a crucial part in Russia’s attempts to occupy Kherson Oblast, both in the area of military and of military-civilian activity. In terms of the latter, the Russians are attempting gradually to integrate the newly occupied territories into Russia’s information, cultural, educational, economic and financial spaces. Tasheva said that Russia’s plans have changed at least four times, in particular with regard to holding a so-called “referendum” [on the accession of Kherson Oblast to the Russian Federation – ed.]. The Russians are attempting to gain the support of the Crimean Tatars living in Kherson Oblast, and have recruited members of a Russian-controlled muftiate [an administrative territorial entity under the supervision of a mufti, an Islamic leader – ed.] in Crimea, as well as several collaborators.

For example, the Russians have set up a “humanitarian aid” distribution point in Novooleksiivka; the aid is delivered there by Enver Abduraimov, a collaborator from Russian-occupied Crimea. Ervin Musaiev from the occupation administration of Crimea is coordinating the process from his end. Activists, Ukrainian citizens and Crimean Tatars are being abducted from Kherson Oblast and taken to the Russian-occupied territories in Crimea. There, they are charged with extremism or terrorist activity. The Russians are peddling their deceitful narratives by inundating Kherson Oblast with Russian propaganda. They have limited the locals’ access to the Ukrainian internet and connected all local providers to Crimean networks.

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SOURCE = Ukrainska Pravda

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Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova who protested Ukraine war live on TV has home raided

August 10th 2022

Russian authorities have raided the home of a former state TV journalist who quit after making an on-air protest against the war in Ukraine. Marina Ovsyannikova gained international attention in March after bursting into a studio of Russian state TV, her then employer, to denounce the war in Ukraine. She held a poster that read: “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here”. At the time she was the editor of the Vremya nightly news programme, but after quitting her job Ms Ovsyannikova became somewhat of an activist, staging anti-war pickets and speaking out against the conflict. She was fined for flouting protest laws and later took to social media to condemn those responsible for the ongoing war. She was fined 30,000 roubles (around £223.40 at the time).

She later told Sky’s Moscow correspondent Diana Magnay she has no regrets about her actions, despite facing hostility from all sides – including her family. Moscow has now launched a criminal case against her, on the charge of spreading false information about the Russian armed forces, her lawyer said on social media. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison. Her lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov told the independent news site Meduza the case is likely linked to a protest Ms Ovsyannikova staged last month, holding a banner that said “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin is a killer, his soldiers are fascists”.

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SOURCE = Sky News

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Ukraine Live Briefing: Russia ‘cannot feel safe in Crimea’ after air base blasts

August 10th 2022

A deadly strike on a Russian air base in occupied Crimea was carried out by Ukrainian special forces,a Ukrainian government official told The Washington Post on Wednesday. In central Ukraine, at least 13 people were killed when Russian strikes hit Dnipropetrovsk overnight, local officials said.

Key developments

  • Tuesday’s airfield explosion in Crimea was the work of Ukrainian special forces, a Ukrainian official told The Post. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and confirmed Ukraine’s role on the condition of anonymity, did not disclose details of how the attack was carried out. The Ukrainian air force said in a separate statement that nine Russian aircraft were destroyed in the blast, without any claim of responsibility. The attack reportedly killed one person and injured at least 13, including two children.
  • Beyond the dozen injuries, one death and nine aircraft Russia said were destroyed in Tuesday’s blasts destroyed, 62 apartment buildings and 20 commercial buildings were damaged, Russia-backed Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov wrote Wednesday on Telegram.
  • A Ukrainian attack in Crimea would mark a dramatic escalation in the war. It would demonstrate a remarkable ability by Ukrainian forces, or their allies, to strike at Russia far from the front lines. Russia said the blast at the air base was caused by an ammunition explosion. A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Post that Ukrainian forces apparently had carried out the strike but did not use a weapon provided by the United States.
  • The Russian TV journalist who staged an on-air protest in March faces criminal charges for allegedly spreading fake information about Russia’s armed forces, her lawyer said. Marina Ovsyannikova was detained and her home was raided, the lawyer wrote, adding that the charges relate to a photograph she posted holding up an antiwar poster on July 15. “More than 350 children died in Ukraine, are these fake?” she wrote in a Wednesday post detailing the house search.

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SOURCE = The Washington Post

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Hundreds join anti-Gazprom protest in Bulgaria

August 10th 2022

Hundreds of Bulgarians took to the streets of the capital Sofia Wednesday, voicing fears that the country’s caretaker government could break with the policies of its pro-Western predecessor and revert to close energy ties with Russia. The second in a planned series of protests under the slogan #GAZwithme took place in front of the presidential building, and organizers said they want greater accountability from the caretaker cabinet. Many people in Bulgaria – a member of the EU and NATO – are concerned that the previous, pro-Western government was toppled in June because of its hard stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its refusal to pay Russian energy giant Gazprom in rubles, Russia’s currency. In late April, Russia cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria, the EU’s poorest nation, after it rejected Moscow’s demand to pay in rubles. Relations between the two former Soviet bloc allies tanked under the previous government.

The first public statements by the current caretaker government, appointed by President Rumen Radev, indicate that Bulgaria could restart talks with Gazprom to avoid natural gas shortages later in the year. “We refuse to be dependent on Gazprom and finance Putin’s outrageous war!” read one of the banners at the protest. Atanas Sharkov, one of the protest organizers, called on Radev, who bears direct responsibility for the actions of the caretaker government, to guarantee that previous decisions will not be revised. He insisted that Gazprom must cease to be Bulgaria’s only gas supplier. “It is high time to follow European policies and be part of Europe,” Sharkov said. Last month, the leaders of Greece and Bulgaria marked the completion of a new pipeline that will supply natural gas from Azerbaijan to Bulgaria. They said commercial deliveries are expected to start by 1 October.

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SOURCE = Euro News

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Occupied Ukrainian plant becomes epicenter of Russia’s nuclear blackmail

August 10th 2022

Anticipating a Ukrainian counter-offensive in the country’s south, Russia is turning the six-reactor Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in occupied Enerhodar into a ticking time bomb. Repeated Russian shelling from within the plant’s territory, causing one of the reactors to shut down, has put the entire complex’s safety at stake. The city of Enerhodar, occupied by Russia since March 4, lies on the bank of the Dnipro River at the edge of Russian-controlled parts of Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Russia has been constantly shelling Ukrainian positions across the river from Enerhodar and accused Ukraine of firing back. Ukrainian authorities have had none of it, saying it’s Russian forces causing fires at the site by using indiscriminate fire. Rafael Mariano Grossi, the head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, called for an immediate end to all military action near the site, saying there is a “very real risk of a nuclear disaster.” The latest Russian shelling, on Aug. 6, wounded one worker and damaged some of the plant’s sensors, making it virtually impossible to monitor radiation leaks, Ukraine’s state nuclear company, Energoatom, said.

According to the state company, Russia is playing on Western fears of a nuclear disaster in Ukraine to reduce foreign military support towards the country, while troops on the ground use the plant to protect themselves from Ukrainian strikes by transforming it into a military stronghold. With Ukraine’s Energoatom and the UN’s IAEA losing access to the plant, the real picture on the ground remains eerily unknown. Findings of various open source intelligence resources show Russians regularly bringing a wide array of weapons into the plant’s premises. Since Russian troops attacked and captured the plant on March 4, they have transformed the plant into a full-on military base. The U.K. Defense Ministry noted that Russian troops are using the nuclear power plant turned military base to target Ukraine’s military and to reduce the risk of their equipment and personnel being attacked by Ukraine in return, the ministry said. Local reports appear to witness rockets launched from the plant on Nikopol, a city under Ukraine’s control on the other bank of the Dnipro River.

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SOURCE = Kyiv Independent

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EU under pressure to ban Russian tourists from Europe

August 10th 2022

The EU has been urged to introduce a travel ban on Russian tourists with some member states saying visiting Europe was “a privilege, not a human right” for holidaymakers. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an interview with the Washington Post that the “most important sanction” was to “close the borders, because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land”. Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy”, he said. The Ukrainian president’s call was backed by Estonia’s prime minister, Kaja Kallas, who tweeted that visiting Europe was “a privilege, not a human right”, adding: “Time to end tourism from Russia. Stop issuing tourist visas to Russians.” Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, has aired the same frustrations, telling public broadcaster YLE that it was “not right that while Russia is waging an aggressive, brutal war of aggression in Europe, Russians can live a normal life, travel in Europe, be tourists.” Finland has previously said that increasing numbers of Russians have begun crossing the 830-mile border between the two countries to shop in border stores and travel onwards to other EU destinations since Covid restrictions were lifted.

The EU banned air travel from Russia after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February and the last passenger rail link, between St Petersburg and Helsinki, was suspended in March, but Russians can still enter Finland by road. Finland last week issued a plan to limit tourist visas for Russians, but has questioned its legal right to impose an outright ban, while other Schengen passport-free zone countries that share a border with Russia, such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, have already dramatically tightened visa rules. But all have emphasised the need for an EU-level decision on the matter since a visa issued by one member of the zone cannot be refused by others – meaning that ordinary Russians not targeted by individual sanctions can use their neighbouring countries as transit zones for border-free onward travel across the region.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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Evidence mounting that weapon used in Crimea airfield strikes may be Ukraine-made missile system

August 10th 2022

A day after a wave of unexpected and destructive strikes against a critical Russian air force air base in Crimea, evidence was mounting on Aug. 11 that the weapon used most likely was a highly-capable Ukraine-produced missile system possibly thought by Moscow not to be in operation. Saky air base, as the missile flies, is at least 150 kilometers from the closest launch sites usable by Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) units. Until Tuesday, it was unclear to the Kremlin and independent observers alike whether Ukraine had a weapon capable of shooting even close to that distance. Ukrainian military sources on Wednesday said that the Saky strikes destroyed at least nine Russian air force planes parked at the base, and detonated multiple munitions depots. Kyiv official sources made no comment on how, and by what means, the attacks were carried out. Andriy Tsaplienko, a high-profile Ukrainian military journalist, in an August 10 Telegram post said that the only possible tool Ukraine has to cause all that damage, at that range, was a weapon called the Grim heavy missile launcher. Other sources said the evidence supporting Grim systems as is not conclusive. Also known as Sapsan, the truck-mounted Grim system was developed by Ukraine’s Dnipro-based Yuzhmash aerospace company from 2013-2019.

Twin missiles carried aboard would have a range of at least 280 km – twice the reach of the Ukrainian army’s aging Tochka-U rockets, and four times the range of US-delivered HIMARS missiles known to be operated by the Ukraine Armed Forces. Each Grim missile, per design, carries close to a half ton of explosives, and is, per Yuzhmash advertising, capable of pulverizing 10,000 square meters of target area. Fielding the Grim was slow and difficult, due to limited financing of Ukraine’s defense sector, the exacting tolerances in ballistic missile manufacturing, and Kyiv’s loss of access to Russian-manufactured parts after Russian invasion of Crimea and Donbas in 2014. By 2019 only two systems had reportedly been built: one a test copy for the Ukrainian military, and one a sample for overseas arms sales, possibly to Saudi Arabia. In 2021 Ukraine’s Defense Ministry announced it intended to field a “division” of Grim systems, without saying when or how the systems would be paid for. Some well-informed military observers suggested talk of Grim missiles hitting Crimea could be misdirection. “I think a Grim is just a clever cover for the actual means to deliver that long-range strike (on Saky),” said Oleksii Izhak, an analyst for Ukraine’s National Institute of Strategic Research. “Targeting and control systems need some testing and (the missiles) were hardly tested in real flights.”

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SOURCE = Kyiv Post

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