Crimea Strike Destroys Two Russian MiG-31s, Prized S-400 System—Report

crimea strike destroys two russian mig-31s, prized s-400 system—report

A combination image showing a Russian S-400 air defense system and Russian special forces storming the Belbek Airbase on March 22, 2014. A pair of MiG-31 fighter jets were "destroyed," and an S-400 air defense system was damaged after Ukraine attacked the Belbek military airfield close to the western Crimean city of Sevastopol overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, independent Russian outlet Astra reported on Thursday, citing anonymous sources in Crimean emergency services.

An advanced Russian air defense system and two fighter jets were damaged in a Ukrainian long-range missile strike on a key air base in Crimea, according to an independent Russian media report.

A pair of MiG-31 fighter jets were "destroyed" and an S-400 air defense system was damaged after Ukraine attacked the Belbek military airfield close to the western Crimean city of Sevastopol overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, independent Russian outlet Astra reported on Thursday, citing anonymous sources in Crimean emergency services.

A warehouse stocked with fuel caught fire, Astra reported. A Crimean Telegram channel said on Wednesday that "a fuel depot was hit at the Belbek airfield and a fire started."

Early on Wednesday, Russia's Defense Ministry said its air defenses had intercepted 10 U.S.-provided Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles over Crimea overnight. The U.S. has furnished Kyiv with several different types of ATACMS, including shorter-range cluster versions, giving Ukraine the ability to strike high-value assets deep behind the frontlines.

The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, said Russian air defenses had "repelled a massive attack" on Sevastopol, including several missiles around the Belbek airfield.

Pro-Ukrainian partisan movement ATESH, which operates in Crimea, said on Wednesday that the Belbek airfield's "main artillery warehouse" was damaged, compromising missiles used by Russian jets to fire at Ukraine.

Olexander Scherba, Ukraine's former ambassador to Austria, said on Thursday that "multiple jets" and a S-400 air defense system, and possibly a strategic missile carrier, had been "destroyed" at the Belbek airfield in the past two days.

Photographs circulated widely online on Wednesday appeared to show a damaged S-400 radar, but they could not be independently verified.

Newsweek has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry and the Ukrainian military for comment via email.

In a separate statement late on Wednesday, Razvozhaev said the Russian military had "repelled" another Ukrainian attack on the port city. Moscow said Ukraine had fired ATACMS at unspecified facilities at around 11 p.m. Moscow time on Wednesday night. Five missiles were "destroyed" by Russian air defenses over Crimea, the Russian government said.

Kyiv has upped its attacks on Crimea, the peninsula to the south of mainland Ukraine that Moscow has controlled for a decade. Kyiv has vowed to reclaim the territory and frequently targets military installations like the Belbek air base, which belonged to Ukraine prior to the Russian annexation in 2014. In late January, a Ukrainian strike destroyed a Russian bunker at the Belbek air base, British intelligence assessed earlier this year.

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