On Monday, March 20th, 2023, a major incident occurred in Dzhankoi, a city in Crimea that was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014. According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, a shipment of Russian Kalibr cruise missiles was destroyed by an explosion as they were being transported by rail to the Black Sea Fleet base in Sevastopol.
The Kalibr missiles are designed to be launched from ships and submarines and have a range of up to 2,500 km on land and 375 km at sea. They are capable of carrying conventional or nuclear warheads and have been used by Russia in its military interventions in Syria and Libya.
The Ukrainian authorities did not claim responsibility for the attack but said it was part of their efforts to “demilitarize Russia and prepare the Crimean peninsula for de-occupation”. They also said that Dzhankoi was home to one of Russia’s largest military bases in Crimea and hosted an airfield that was used for launching drones and fighter jets.
The Russian officials confirmed that there was an attack on Dzhankoi but blamed it on drones that were allegedly sent by Ukrainian saboteurs. They said that one person was injured and several buildings were damaged by falling debris from a downed drone. They also said that their air defense system was activated and shot down some of the drones.
However, video footage circulated online showed a large fireball rising from what appeared to be a train station area. The blast was heard across the city and caused panic among residents. Some witnesses reported seeing smoke and flames coming from a train car that was carrying military equipment.