Concerns are also growing in relation with the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, around which Ukrainians and Russians are still fighting.
Explosions have multiplied in Crimea in recent days, in a region far from the front.
Fires have exploded and ordnance exploded at a depot in Crimea on Wednesday, the day after the most recent suspected Ukrainian attack on a military site on the peninsula annexed to Russia.
The peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014, was once a secure base Moscow forces used to launch attacks. It also served as the starting base for the start of the February 24 invasion. But in recent days, explosions have destroyed several Russian planes at an air base in Crimea, and munitions were detonated on Tuesday.
Ukrainian authorities have stopped publicly claiming responsibility, but President Volodymyr Zelensky hinted at Ukrainian attacks behind enemy lines after the latest explosions on Tuesday, while Russia called them acts of sabotage.
The series of attacks represents the latest setback for Moscow, which began its invasion in the hope of taking the capital of kyiv in a flash of time and a much of the country, but quickly bogged down in the face of fiercer-than-expected resistance from Ukrainian forces.
The explosion in Dzhankoi district in northern Crimea is believed to be due to “an act of sabotage,” according to the Russian military.
With the conflict dragging on for nearly six months, the sides are now engaged in a war of attrition, fighting from village to village, mainly in the east of the country. Attacks in Crimea could open a new front that would represent a significant escalation of the war and further stretch Russia's military resources.
Russian commanders will most likely become increasingly concerned by the apparent deterioration of security in Crimea, which serves as a base for the occupation, wrote the British Ministry of Defense on Twitter.
But it remains to be seen whether the attacks in Crimea would break the deadlock, as Ukrainian and Russian forces clash in a war that has driven millions from their homes, disrupted food supplies around the world and has occasionally raised concerns of a nuclear accident.
Tuesday's explosions and fires tore through an ammunition depot near Dzhankoi in Crimea, resulting in chaotic scenes when& #x27;about 3000 people had to be evacuated.
In a stark reminder of Russia's vulnerability in Crimea, the peninsula's regional chief Sergei Aksyonov said authorities were still battling the fires on Wednesday with a helicopter. He said a search was underway to find the perpetrators of the attacks.
Business newspaper Kommersant also reported explosions on Tuesday in a Gvardeyskoye base.
The British intelligence report noted that Gvardeyskoye and Dzhankoi are home to two of the most important Russian military airfields in Crimea.
For Danish analyst Oliver Alexander, these explosions, which could actually be due to ballistic missile strikes, have dealt a blow to the morale of the Russian army while restoring confidence to the Ukrainian camp, in the sixth month of the war.
Crimea had been relatively spared, but this is no longer the case. This puts pressure on the Russians, he reports to AFP.
The attacks caused panic among many tourists in Crimea, a popular summer destination. appreciated by Russians, while Ukraine threatened on Wednesday to dismantle the Kerch Bridge, which connects mainland Russia to the peninsula, inaugurated in 2018 after an ultra-fast and expensive construction.
Even with the conflict in Ukraine, Crimea remains a popular tourist destination for Russians, who take advantage of it in particular to bathe in the Black Sea.
The American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), headquartered in Washington, explains for its part that the explosion on Tuesday occurred in a major logistics center in the Russian army used for the supply of its units which occupy the south of Ukraine.
According to the ISW, the attacks of the last two weeks have been #x27;are part of a coherent counter-offensive by Ukrainian forces in this region, where they aim to push the Russians back beyond the Dnieper, the great river that crosses it.
Russian logistical axes from Crimea directly support Russian forces in mainland Ukraine, including those in the Kherson region, which Moscow has occupied since the first weeks of the war and which Kyiv has set itself the goal of retaking. , adds the ISW.
For weeks, Ukraine has claimed to be carrying out a counter-offensive in the Kherson region, having enabled it to reconquer dozens of villages . More recently, she claimed to have decommissioned several strategic bridges.
Also on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Ukraine for a meeting with Mr. Zelensky and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss grain deliveries that are essential to feed people. hungry people of the world.
They should also talk about a possible fact-finding mission on the Russian-controlled Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which Moscow and kyiv have mutually accused of bombing.
For his part, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday it was urgent that an inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) take place at this plant, the largest in Europe.
The occupation of the site by Russian soldiers poses a serious threat to its security and increases the risk of a nuclear accident or incident […] There is an urgent need to authorize an inspection of the IAEA and to obtain the withdrawal of all Russian forces, Mr. Stoltenberg said during a press conference.< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">Ukrainian rescue workers participated in a nuclear accident drill at the Zaporizhia power plant.
Russian control of Zaporizhia endangers the people of Ukraine, neighboring countries, as well as the international community, he insisted, speaking after a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.< /p>
The recent strikes that targeted the plant, raising fears of a nuclear catastrophe, prompted a meeting of the UN Security Council last week and IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi pleaded for the closure. #x27;sending a mission to the site as soon as possible to inspect the site.
Russia has accused the UN services of having prevented the IAEA mission. Ukraine, on its side, opposed it, considering that it would legitimize the Russian occupation of the site in the eyes of the international community.
For its part , the Ukrainian Interior Minister said that his country must prepare for all scenarios related to the plant.
Nobody could foresee that Russian troops were going to shoot at nuclear reactors using tanks. It was unheard of, accused Denys Monastyrsky during a trip to Zaporijia, a city in the south of the country located about fifty kilometers as the crow flies from this installation.
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The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant fell into Russian hands several months ago.
Dozens of Ukrainian rescue workers took part in an exercise in the blazing heat, AFP journalists noted on Wednesday. Equipped with gas masks and protective clothing with dosimeters, they trained to evacuate wounded and clean contaminated vehicles.
The boss of Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom , Petro Kotin, estimated that up to 500 Russian soldiers, as well as about 50 military vehicles including armored vehicles and tanks, are at the plant.
The worst thing is that for the last two or three weeks, they have placed these vehicles in the engine room of units 1 and 2, where the electricity is generated, said Mr. Kotine, who is the former director of this installation.
With information from Associated Press, and Agence France-Presse