The overall photograph of Saki airport in the morning of August 8 before the attack
taken by Planet Labs PBC company.
The detailed picture of Saki airport before the August 9 attack.
The overall view of Saki airport on August 10 taken by Planet Labs PBC. The dark
areas represent areas hit by fires.
The detailed photograph of the apron on Saki airport with destroyed aircraft.
executed by the Ukrainian Special Forces.
This could be a smoke screen as well. The
Russians are moving the reinforcements
to Kherson area via Crimea and the information about the Ukrainian Special Forces active there will force them to leave
some military contingent on the peninsula to protect several important locations.
Exactly one week passed and Crimea
was shaken by more explosions even of
the larger intensity. On Tuesday August 16
three locations were hit. First in the early
morning the ammunition dump was destroyed in the village of Majske in Djankoy
region. It was followed by the explosion
of the transformer station supplying the
railroads with electricity. As a result, the
train service between Crimea and Ukrainian South was interrupted. And thirdly
the Gvardeiskoye airbase near Simferopol
was hit. It is a home to the combined air
unit with 12 Su-24 bombers and 12 Su-25
Again, the reasons were debated. The
Ukrainians still did not claim responsibility.
The Russians however changed their rhetoric. In the case of Saki explosions, they
claimed it was “an accident caused by negligence.” That reckless soldier supposedly
threw cigarette butts precisely among the
aircraft in at least three different locations.
In the second case though the FSB secret
service immediately blamed the “Ukrainian
saboteurs” for the explosions. How exactly these sabotages were supposed to be
executed was not published. Only once the
information popped up in the Russian media that the drone loaded with explosives
was used for the attack.
The Russian leadership supposedly gave
up pretending the illusion that Crimea is
safe. The mass exodus of the Russian civilians proved that denial makes no sense.
Instead, the Russians started to boost the
defense of the Kerch bridge connection
Crimea with Russia. After the attacks on
August 16, they also withdrew their airplanes and helicopters from the airports
in the occupied Crimea to safer locations.
In the beginning of September Ukraine finally revealed the truth. Valery Zaluzhny,
the supreme commander of the Ukrainian
armed forces admitted that the Ukrainian
rockets are responsible for the attack on
the Russian bases. According to his statement ten Russian aircraft were destroyed
by them at Saki airbase. Zaluzhny said that
by attacking Crimea the Ukrainians not
only intended to cause the damage to the
military infrastructure but also shake the
Russian military confidence and sense of
being bulletproof. Saki had been chosen as
the first target in Crimea on purpose, due
to the nearby summer resorts. Kremlin
has tried to convince the civilian population that the war does not affect them at all.
People however saw it by their own eyes
on the beaches near Saki. The only thing
Zaluzhny did not disclose was the type of
the rockets used. Owing to the distance
from the frontline only the aforementioned
ATACMS or Hrim-2 can be considered.
In addition to these three decisive events
the “regular” air activities continued. Even
though the front lines have not changed
for the most part the activity in the air
has intensified significantly, especially on
the Ukrainian side. Between July 16 and
August 16 loss of three Bayraktar TB2
drones was confirmed. It is the proof that
the Ukrainians still use them despite the
Russian claims that all of them had been
destroyed, several times! On August 15 two
Ukrainian Mig-29 pilots were buried, Col.
Juryi Pohorilyi from 114th brigade of the
Tactical AF and Maj. Anton Listopad from
204th brigade. Hundreds of people showed
up to pay respects. It was not announced
though when exactly they perished.
On August 7 president Volodymyr Zelenskyi posthumously decorated another
Mig-29 pilot, Lt.Col. Eduard Vahorovskyi.
Maj.Dmytro Kolomiyets, who perished
in the cockpit of L-39 Albatross, was