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Air Force: Ukraine strikes Russian targets in Crimea 'methodologically and regularly'

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 1, 2024 3:24 PM 2 min read
A pillar of smoke rising purportedly from Balbek airbase shown in a video shared by the Crimean Wind Telegram channel on Jan. 31, 2024. (Crimean Wind/Telegram)
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Ukraine has certain "tools" at its disposal that means it can strike Russian military targets occupying Crimea "methodologically and regularly," Yurii Ihnat, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Air Force, said in an interview with Radio Svoboda on Feb. 1.  

Videos emerged on local Telegram channels on Jan. 31 showing a series of explosions in Russian-occupied Crimea.  Air Force Commander General Mykola Oleshchuk confirmed that Balbek airfield, located a few kilometers north of Sevastopol, was hit in the attack.

While he could not yet confirm whether any aircraft had been destroyed, Ihnat said that fighter jets, such as the MiG-29 and Su-30, are usually based at Balbek.

Ukrainska Pravda reported that the attack on the airbase was carried out using Scalp/Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles, citing a source in the military.

"Ukrainian aviators will definitely return home to their native airfield," Oleshchuk said on Jan. 31, referring to Ukraine's 204th Sevastopol Tactical Aviation Brigade, which was based at the Balbek airfield before Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.

"I also spent a lot of time at this airfield when I was a military journalist," Ihnat told Radio Svoboda.

All members of the brigade, which is now based in Lutsk Oblast in northwestern Ukraine, "want to return precisely to their base near Sevastopol, where they belong," Ihnat said, adding that Balbek is "one of the main airfields on the peninsula."

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