Ukraine says Crimea drone strike is 'God's punishment' for Russian attacks

A top Ukrainian official has issued a brutal message after a drone strike caused a huge fire at an oil depot in Russian-controlled Crimea.

Pictures showed gigantic plumes of smoke billowing from a fuel storage facility in Sevastopol after it was hit by the drone yesterday morning.

Ukrainian officials don’t usually claim responsibility for explosions at Russian military sites in Crimea, although they have been known to celebrate them using euphemisms.

More than 10 tanks of oil products with a capacity of about 40,000 tonnes intended for use by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet were destroyed, according to Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence.

Mr Yusov did not say that Ukraine was responsible for the explosion, but instead described the blast as ‘God’s punishment’ for Russian strikes in Ukraine on Friday.

He said: ‘This punishment will be long-lasting. 

‘In the near future, it is better for all residents of temporarily occupied Crimea not to be near military facilities and facilities that provide for the aggressor’s army.’ 

In a daily update on Facebook, the general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said units had hit ‘two depots of fuel and lubricants, two air defence systems, one artillery unit and another important enemy target,’ but gave no more details.

Russia had launched a wave of airstrikes in cities across Ukraine on Friday, killing at least 23 people in the city of Uman.

Kyiv and Donetsk also came under attack by Russian missiles, leaving family homes devastated.

Mr Yusov’s comments suggest the oil depot drone strike was in response to those attacks.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv would do all it could to ensure that those responsible for the attack on Uman are held accountable as soon as possible.

He said in an evening video address: ‘You are all terrorists and murderers and you must all be punished.’

Moscow has accused Kyiv of sending waves of aerial and seaborne drones to attack the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

According to the Moscow-installed governor of Sevastopol, no one was injured in the strike and Russian firefighters managed to ‘prevent a catastrophe’ by putting the fire out.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, wrote on Telegram: ‘According to preliminary information, the fire was caused by a drone hit.

‘The enemy… wanted to take Sevastopol by surprise, as usual, by staging a sneak attack in the morning,’

He also said it ‘became clear that only one drone was able to reach the oil reservoir,’ after experts examined the site.

Another drone was downed and its wreckage was found on the shore near the terminal, Mr Razvozhaev added.

Ukraine’s forces lack longer-range missiles that can reach targets in places such as Sevastopol, but has been developing drones as an alternative method of attack.

The strike came as Ukraine prepares for a long-promised counter offensive to push Russian forces back from territory they seized since invading in February last year.

Ukraine says control of all its legal territory, including Crimea, is a key condition for any peace deal.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-appointed head of Crimea, said on Telegram that air defence and electronic warfare forces on Saturday shot down two drones over the region.

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