Satellite images have revealed the extent of damage at Russia’s Saki Air Base on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which is currently occupied by Russian military forces.
The explosions at the air base come nearly six months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A series of explosions rocked the airfield on Tuesday (Aug. 9), which were captured on camera (opens in new tab) by vacationing beachgoers nearby. The Russian Ministry of Defense issued a statement shortly after the incident claiming the blasts were the result of an accidental detonation of aviation munitions, according to a report by CNN (opens in new tab).
However, NBC News reports (opens in new tab) that senior Ukrainian military officials have claimed the explosions were caused by Ukrainian long-range missile strikes, or even by Ukrainian guerillas operating on the peninsula.
Whatever the cause, the explosions appear to have severely damaged numerous high-profile military assets at the base, based on satellite imagery captured by Maxar Technologies. The images appear to show numerous aircraft badly damaged and burned, some of them lying in pieces on a scorched tarmac.
#Satelliteimagery from August 10, 2022 of #Saki airbase in Novofedorivka, #Crimea, #Ukraine showing the aftermath of the reported attack on the Russian airbase where you can see the extent of the damage caused by explosions and fires. pic.twitter.com/B67lfdO1jdAugust 11, 2022
NBC News reports that at least nine Russian military aircraft were destroyed in the explosions based on its analysis of satellite imagery captured by San Francisco-based company Planet. Russian officials have denied that any aircraft were damaged.
Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine has already had a significant impact on international cooperation in space. In July, officials from NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency all issued statements condemning Russia’s use of the International Space Station (ISS) for anti-Ukrainian propaganda. After making a series of dizzying and antagonistic statements, Russia’s space agency Roscosmos stated on Aug. 2 it would begin withdrawing from the ISSprogram in 2024.
The European Space Agency also withdrew its cooperation with Russia on a life-hunting Mars rover mission as part of the broader ExoMars project.