Experts have cast doubt on the Ukrainian special forces’ report behind the Crimea airbase attack


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Reports that Ukrainian special forces are behind explosions at a Russian airbase in occupied Crimea represent an unlikely escalation in the conflict, experts tell Fox News.

“It is unlikely that the Ukrainians were behind these explosions in Crimea,” Rebecca Koffler, a former DIA intelligence officer and author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” said Wednesday.

At least three explosions were reported at the Saki airbase in Crimea on Tuesday, the result of an operation by Ukrainian special forces, a Ukrainian government official told The Washington Post.

But the operation, which Fox News could not verify, represents a dramatic turn of events in the war, with Ukrainian forces demonstrating their ability to strike deep behind Russian lines in an area Russian forces generally consider safe but risk further. Exacerbated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine-Russia war ‘enters new phase’ as troops move south into Kherson Oblast, Crimea

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014, and the Kremlin claims the region as part of its territory. The government of Ukraine has never recognized Russian claims to Crimea, a position shared by the US

Vitaly, a Ukrainian army officer, holds his weapon in a trench during a tactical exercise at a military camp amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
(REUTERS/Wesley Marcelino)

“Moscow now considers itself part of Russia,” Koffler said. “In principle, strikes on Russia call for retaliation and further escalation.”

Koffler also cast doubt on the possibility of the attack being part of a disinformation campaign, a tactic heavily engaged in by both sides. A Ukrainian official told the press about such a covert operation that such disclosures would be unusual and seen as irresponsible, adding that they risked further escalation of the conflict by Russia.

“I do not completely rule out the possibility of detonation of the Ukrainian resistance in Crimea, but missile attacks from Kyiv in Crimea are highly unlikely,” Koffler said. “Ukrainians know this is a red line for Putin because Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.”

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The US has supplied Ukraine with billions of dollars in military aid since the conflict began, but the aid came with the understanding that US weapons would not be used to target the Russian mainland.

A U.S. official, who spoke to The Washington Post on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday that no U.S. weapon was used in the Crimea blast.

The Ukrainian government has not yet been able to confirm or deny that the explosion was the result of a Ukrainian military operation, but Russia has claimed that the explosion was caused by an ammunition explosion. The Ukrainian air force said in a statement that nine Russian military aircraft were destroyed in the blast, while Russian officials said one person was killed and 13 others were wounded in the blast.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to win back the disputed peninsula but did not mention the explosion or any Ukrainian military involvement in a speech Tuesday night.

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“Crimea is Ukrainian, and we will never give it up,” he said.

The blast comes as Ukraine steps up its offensive in areas occupied by Russian forces, using guerrilla forces loyal to Kyiv and paving the way for the military to identify targets.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine.
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

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“Our goal is to make life unbearable for the Russian invaders and use any means to derail their plans,” Andriy, the coordinator of the guerrilla movement in the southern Kherson region, told The Associated Press.

The Kherson region in the northern part of Crimea saw increased guerrilla activity during the summer. In June, a Russian-based official was killed in a bomb blast in the area while on his way to work.

“Putin underestimated the level of resistance his aggression would generate among Ukrainians,” Koffler said. “It is far from a slam dunk for Russia to truly control the occupied territories given the level of resistance activities being carried out by pro-Ukrainian guerrilla forces.”





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