Fires and explosions have hit more Russian military sites amid rising international tension over fighting near Europe’s biggest nuclear plant inside Ukraine.
Explosions rocked a munitions store in the Belgorod region of Russia with video appearing to show massive flames from the facility.
It was unclear what caused the blasts at the military site at Timonovo, less than 30 miles from the Ukrainian border. It follows a number of blasts at Russian-controlled military sites in Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, including an air field near tourist beaches which destroyed several Russian warplanes. Ukrainian military sources have reportedly said that Kyiv special forces were behind those apparent attacks.
Local authorities told thousands of residents in villages near the munitions depot to evacuate following last night’s blasts.
An eyewitness said: “For about 50 minutes now, explosions have been heard, a glow and smoke can be seen.
“The car is shaking, the fence is shaking. The explosions are frequent, they do not stop.”
Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said the depot “caught fire” and there were no casualities.
Elsewhere, blasts were reported near the Belbek airfield in the key Crimean port city of Sevastopol. Russian officials reported that anti-aircraft defences had shot down drones.
Heightening international tensions, Russia deployed warplanes carrying state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles to its Kaliningrad region, an enclave surrounded by Nato members Lithuania and Poland.
Meanwhile, Kyiv and Moscow continued to trade accusations over the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine following claims by each side that the other has been shelling the area.
Russian and Ukrainian authorities yesterday accused each other of plotting to attack the site and then blame the other side.
It came after UN Secretary General António Guterres raised the alarm following a meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Lviv yesterday.
“Any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide,” Mr Guterres warned.
Mr Zelensky urged the UN to ensure demilitarisation of the nuclear plant, which has been under Russian control since March. However Russia has rejected the appeal, claiming demilitarisation would make the plant “more vulnerable”.