An explosion hit the town of Dzhankoi in Russian-occupied Crimea on Monday, and Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said the blast had destroyed Russian Kalibr cruise missiles that were being transported by rail.
Kremlin-appointed authorities in Crimea denied the claim, saying that drones, which had been responsible for the blast, were “aimed at civilian objects.”
“One was shot down over the Dzhankoi technical school and fell between the academic building and the dormitory,” Oleg Kryuchkov, adviser to the Russia-appointed head of Crimea wrote on the social messaging app Telegram. “There were no military facilities nearby.”
Sergei Aksyonov, the Kremlin-installed leader of Crimea, said that debris from the explosion had damaged a house and a shop, leaving one person injured.
Dzhankoi, a logistics node in northern Crimea and home to an important Russian airfield, is about 150 miles from the front line in southern Ukraine and is a strategically vulnerable point for Russian forces. Weapons and supplies for Russian forces travel along a railway that runs through the town and links up with the Kerch Strait bridge that connects the peninsula with the Russian mainland. That bridge was damaged in an attack last fall.
The Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Russia illegally seized in 2014, is a crucial military base and staging ground for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian warships in the Black Sea have fired cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets that are sometimes hundreds of miles away, hitting towns and cities and damaging the country’s energy infrastructure.
After a major Russian barrage against Ukraine last December, Moscow’s Defense Ministry released a picture showing a cruise missile and a message: “Kalibrs will never run out.”
Ukraine’s military did not claim responsibility for the explosion in Dzhankoi. Although the government has not acknowledged it publicly, Ukraine has struck repeatedly at military targets in Crimea and other Russian-occupied territory, and at infrastructure such as the Kerch Strait bridge.