Ukraine has today brutally trolled sobbing Russian tourists, seen fleeing in terror after huge explosions laid waste to an air base in Crimea, with a video advising them not to visit the peninsula unless they want an ‘unpleasantly hot summer break’.
Footage posted online earlier this week from the Russian occupied territory showed beachgoers running as huge mushroom clouds rose into the air in the distance.
The blasts – that have been credited to Ukraine’s special forces – hit the Novofedorivka base on Tuesday. The base is close to a beach popular with Russian tourists visiting the peninsula which was annexed by Vladimir Putin’s forces in 2014.
While authorities in Kyiv are yet to officially take credit for the attack, the video mocked the Kremlin’s claim that the explosions were the result of an accident on the base caused by a ‘violation of fire safety requirements.’
When posting the video to social media on Thursday, Ukraine’s defence ministry wrote: ‘Unless they want an unpleasantly hot summer break, we advise our valued Russian guests not to visit Ukrainian Crimea. Because no amount of sunscreen will protect them from the hazardous effects of smoking in unauthorised areas.’
Ukraine has today brutally trolled sobbing Russian tourists, seen fleeing in terror after huge explosions laid waste to an air base in Crimea, with a video advising them not to visit the peninsula unless they want an ‘unpleasantly hot summer break’
Text in the video (pictured) suggested alternative destinations to Russian tourists, including Dubai’s ‘Palm Jumeirah Beaches’, ‘Antalya Resorts’ in Turkey and ‘Cuban Cabanas’.
Instead, the video says, ‘You chose Crimea. Big mistake.’ In a stark contrast from the stunning images of the previously listed tourist destinations, the video suddenly shows the huge explosions that rocked Crimea on Tuesday
They 35-second video, created in the style of a tourism advert, addresses Russian tourists. ‘You had a few options this summer,’ bold purple text says.
The video then suggests alternative destinations, including Dubai’s ‘Palm Jumeirah Beaches’, ‘Antalya Resorts’ in Turkey and ‘Cuban Cabanas’.
Instead, the video says, ‘You chose Crimea. Big mistake.’ In a stark contrast from the stunning images of the previously listed tourist destinations, the video suddenly shows the huge explosions that rocked Crimea on Tuesday.
Pictured: Footage in Ukraine’s Defence Ministry video shows the strikes on the airbase
One woman, who was filmed in floods of tears as she was driven away from Crimea this week after the attack, is also shown in the video. ‘I don’t want to leave Crimea, Alushta at all,’ she tells the camera. ‘How cool it is here’
When posting the video to social media on Thursday, Ukraine’s defence ministry wrote: ‘Unless they want an unpleasantly hot summer break, we advise our valued Russian guests not to visit Ukrainian Crimea. Because no amount of sunscreen will protect them from the hazardous effects of smoking in unauthorised areas’
It then shows footage of tourists fleeing a nearby beach as the blasts are seen in the distance, with the text again appearing on screen saying ‘Time to head home’.
One woman, who was filmed in floods of tears as she was driven away from Crimea this week after the attack, is also shown in the video. ‘I don’t want to leave Crimea, Alushta at all,’ she tells the camera. ‘How cool it is here’.
To add insult to injury, the video used Bananarama’s ‘Cruel Summer’ as a soundtrack.
The video ends with blue and yellow text – the colour of Ukraine’s flag – on screen saying ‘Crimea is Ukraine’.
Several large explosions have rocked a military airbase in Russian-held Crimea as an ominous mushroom cloud sent bathers fleeing from nearby beaches
Shocked beachgoers watched on as the smoke began billowing from the direction of the base, before being instructed to evacuate by police officers
Meanwhile, satellite pictures released on Thursday showed the devastation at the Russian air base, hit in the attack that suggests Kyiv may have obtained new long-range strike capability with potential to change the course of the war.
Pictures from independent satellite firm Planet Labs showed three near-identical craters where buildings at Russia’s Saki air base had been struck with apparent precision.
The base, on the southwest coast of Crimea, suffered extensive fire damage with the burnt-out husks of at least eight destroyed warplanes clearly visible.
Russia has denied aircraft were damaged and said explosions at the base on Tuesday were accidental. Ukraine has not publicly claimed responsibility for the attack or said exactly how it was carried out.
Huge explosions are seen in the background in Crimea as stunned civilians look on before jumping into their cars and fleeing
Satellite pictures released on Thursday showed the devastation at the Russian air base, hit in the attack that suggests Kyiv may have obtained new long-range strike capability with potential to change the course of the war. Pictured before (top) and after (bottom) the blasts
After the blasts, Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko also gleefully shared the footage of the woman crying on Twitter, commenting: ‘Do you think Russians will finally begin to understand that it’s really a war?’
The demographics of the peninsula’s population changed rapidly following its 2014 annexation.
Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tartars – an ethnic group indigenous to the peninsula – moved out of Crimea amid complaints of intimidation and poor treatment under a pro-Russian government.
Others who renounced Russian citizenship were classified as foreign citizens and were not permitted to spend more than 180 days per year in Crimea – and were subject to strict migration legislation which meant they could be forcibly deported.
Many more ethnic Russians immigrated to the region, particularly as Russia’s military set about reinforcing its presence there and establishing the headquarters of its prized Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.
However, after the explosions at the Novofedorivka military airbase killed one, injured 14 and destroyed 10 Russian aircraft, Crimea’s highways were backed up by huge traffic jams as fearful residents attempted to evacuate.
Gerashchenko claimed on Wednesday the jams stretched for more than 60 miles.
An anonymous official told the Washington Post that Tuesday’s blasts came as the result of a special forces operation, despite claims that long-range missiles could have been used.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meanwhile vowed to ‘liberate’ the peninsula previously part of Ukraine, but annexed by Russia in 2014 despite international condemnation and Western sanctions.
Zelensky did not directly mention yesterday’s explosions, the cause of which has not yet been officially confirmed, but spoke with conviction as he declared: ‘Crimea is Ukrainian, and we will never give it up… The Russian war against Ukraine and the whole of free Europe must end with Crimea and its liberation.’
The blasts rang out around 3:30pm local time Thursday afternoon at the Russian-held Novofedorivka military airbase in Western Crimea, which is located within sight of a popular beach.
Videos circulating on the Telegram messaging app showed dozens of shocked beachgoers watching trails of smoke snaking into the sky from the base before hastily evacuating the shore.
Other clips showed the charred remains of a Russian fighter jet and the smouldering wreckage of several cars on torn up tarmac destroyed in the devastating explosions.
Ukraine’s air force neither confirmed nor denied its participation in the incident, but said it believed up to 10 Russian fighter jets were destroyed in the explosions (image of a decimated Russian jet involved in the blast)
Clips which emerged from the scene appeared to show the charred remains of a Russian fighter jet and the smouldering wreckage of several cars on torn up tarmac (pictured)
More blasts have rung out in Crimea today, this time at a key bridge in the northern Chongar region constituting one of very few routes out of the peninsula and into Russian-controlled southeastern Ukraine
Russia’s Defence Ministry denied the base on the Black Sea had been attacked by Ukraine, instead declaring there had been a catastrophic aircraft munitions detonation, but editor-in-chief of Russian news outlet RT, Margarita Simonyan, tweeted that the explosions were caused by ‘sabotage’.
Ukrainian social networks meanwhile were abuzz with speculation that the base was destroyed by long-range missiles fired by Ukraine’s military after one Ukrainian official speaking on condition of anonymity told the New York Times that the nation’s armed forces launched the attack.
‘This was an air base from which [Russian] planes regularly took off for attacks against our forces in the southern theatre,’ the official said, adding that ‘a device exclusively of Ukrainian manufacture was used’ to carry out the attack.
This sentiment was echoed by Viktor Andrusiv, a political scientist and former adviser to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, who wrote on Telegram: ‘As you can understand – missiles with a range of 200-300km are already in service with us and are being used in our country.
‘The explosions… at the airfield in Novofedorivka in Crimea, are public proof of this.’
US systems so-far supplied to Ukraine do not have the range to hit the airbase from territory occupied by Kyiv’s forces. But some observers have speculated that the ATACMS missile system could be responsible for the strike.
The Biden administration has not officially supplied the system, which has a range of up to 190 miles – and could strike the base from mainland Ukraine.
Videos of Russians fleeing the site of the blasts came as the regional administrators of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, currently under Russian occupation, said Russian families there had ‘started to panic’ after Ukrainian armed forces attacked two key bridges used by Putin’s troops as supply routes.
‘Because of these events, the mass exodus of the families of the Russian military who lived in Kherson began,’ the statement read.
Both the Kakhovka and Antonivka bridges – two large crossings east of the occupied centre of Kherson which traverse the Dnieper river and allow Putin’s troops in Kherson to receive vital supplies – were badly damaged in a series of Ukrainian strikes.
Rising smoke can be seen from the beach at Saky after explosions were heard from the direction of a Russian military airbase near Novofedorivka, Crimea, Tuesday August 9
A large mushroom cloud is seen rising from the scene of explosions at a Russian held airbase in Novofedorivka, Crimea
Ukraine has not officially claimed responsibility, but a military official speaking on condition of anonymity told the New York Times that the nation’s armed forces launched the attack
If the airbase was in fact struck by the Ukrainians, it would mark the first known major attack on a Russian military site in Crimea since Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine on February 24
Iryna Vereshchuk, the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, did post on Facebook, saying: ‘Today’s explosions in Novofedorivka are another reminder of who is Crimea. Because it is Ukraine.’
Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and has occupied the territory ever since despite widespread condemnation from much of the international community.
If the airbase was in fact struck by the Ukrainians, it would mark the first known major attack on a Russian military site in Crimea since Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Iryna Vereshchuk, the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, posted on Facebook: ‘Today’s explosions in Novofedorivka are another reminder of who is Crimea. Because it is Ukraine.’
But an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted Ukraine is not taking responsibility for the explosions.
Mykhailo Podolyak, when asked by the Dozhd online television channel whether Kyiv was taking responsibility, replied: ‘Of course not. What do we have to do with this?’
Novofedorivka is located more than 130 miles from the nearest part of mainland Ukraine not occupied by Putin’s troops, and Ukrainian authorities have not officially taken responsibility for the blasts.
Russian’s defence ministry denied the explosions were caused as a result of incoming missile fire, claiming: ‘Aircraft ammunition detonated at the ”Saky” airfield near the village of Novofedorivka at a rubble storage site.
‘No aviation equipment at the airfield was damaged. Measures are being taken to extinguish the resulting fire and investigate the cause of the explosion.
‘According to the report from the site, there was no fire impact on the collapsed ammunition storage area at the airfield.’
Won by conquest, given away as a ‘gift’, now occupied by force: Russia’s history in Crimea and the Black Sea
Prince Grigory Potemkin, who established the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea in 1783
The Black Sea – and the Crimean peninsula which juts into it – are a strategic crossroads between Europe, the Middle East and Asia which has been contested by Empires and nations for centuries.
The sea itself contains vital trading routes, is bordered by five of Russia’s near-neighbours, and today hosts vital energy pipelines and fibre optic cables.
For Russia to assert power in the waters, control of Crimea – which contains its main Black Sea port at Sevastopol and controls the Kerch Strait leading to the nearby Sea of Azov – is essential.
Crimea has, at one time or another, come under the control of the Greeks, Persians, Romans, Mongols, Ottomans.
It was not until 1783 that it fell fully under the control of the Russian Empire when Russian generals Alexander Suvorov and Mikhail Kamensky led a force of 8,000 men to victory against an Ottoman army of 40,000 at the the Battle of Kozludzha.
Russia’s Prince Grigory Potemkin quickly established the Russian Black Sea Fleet at the port of Sevastopol, from where he asserted naval power over the Black Sea, it neighbours including Georgia, Ukraine and Turkey, and projected power further into the Mediterranean.
Crimea also turned into a key trading post. On the eve of World War 1 in 1914 – some 50 per cent of all Russia’s exports and a full 90 per cent of its agricultural exports passed through Bosphorus Strait which leads out of the Black Sea.
In 1954 Crimea was given as a ‘gift’ by Nikita Khrushchev to Ukraine, ostensibly to mark the 300th anniversary of Ukraine’s merger with Tsarist Russia, but more likely to secure Ukraine’s support for Khrushchev’s leadership and to cement Ukraine as part of the Soviet Union.
Because Ukraine was then part of the Union, Moscow maintained control over Crimea and its vital ports – at least until 1991 when the union collapsed and Ukraine became and independent county.
Following Ukraine’s independence, access to the peninsula became a bargaining chip between the two nations, with Ukraine recognising Russia’s right to the port at Sevastopol in return for concessions such as writing off debts and taking control of part of the Black Sea fleet.
But in 2014, the pro-Moscow government of Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in a popular uprising that wanted to draw the country closer to Europe.
Fearing the loss of the port at Sevastopol, Putin marched troops into Crimea and seized control of it – later holding a ‘referendum’ which showed majority support for the region to become part of Russia, though the result is viewed as far from credible.
Today, Moscow is in control of the peninsula and refers to it as part of its territory, though most world bodies refer to the region as ‘occupied Crimea’.
The Black Sea Fleet remains one of Russia’s largest, believed to be comprised of close to 50 ships, seven submarines and 25,000 troops, mostly marines.