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Southern Command: Fire at oil depot in Sevastopol is Ukraine’s ‘preparations’ for counteroffensive

by The Kyiv Independent news desk April 30, 2023 1:35 PM 2 min read
Oil depot on fire in Sevastopol on April 29. (Screenshot from a video shared by locals in a Sevastopol news group on the Russian platform VK.)
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According to Ukraine's Armed Forces' Southern Command spokesperson Natalia Humeniuk, the large fire that occurred at an oil depot at the Kozacha Bay in Russian-occupied Sevastopol on April 29 is part of Ukraine’s “preparations” for the awaited counteroffensive.

“This work is a preparation for the broad, full-scale offensive that everyone expects," Humeniuk said, as cited by Ukrainska Pravda.

Videos and photos of a large fire spanning across what appears to be the entire oil depot and a massive black cloud of smoke above the city began circulating on social media early in the morning on April 29.

The head of the illegal Russian occupation government in Sevastopol soon claimed a drone attack caused a large fire at an oil depot at Kozacha Bay.

"A fuel tank is on fire near Manganari Brothers Street in the Kozacha Bay area. According to preliminary information, the fire was caused by an unmanned aerial vehicle hit," Mikhail Razvozhaev wrote on Telegram.

Following the fire, families of the Russian military began evacuating from the occupied peninsula, Humeniuk claimed, as quoted by the Ukrinform news site.

On April 28, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine's preparations for an upcoming counteroffensive are "coming to an end" as the military undergoes training on Western-provided weapons.

"The equipment has been announced, prepared, and partially delivered. There is equipment on which the training programs are at the final stage. The crews will arrive (in Ukraine) with it when the time and place will be determined," Reznikov said at a press conference.

"But let's put it like this: We are ready by a high percentage," he said, adding that the decision on the date and place of the counteroffensive will be made by the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces.

The outcome of the counteroffensive is expected to be a critical turning point in the war that will determine whether Ukraine reclaims more of its territory or is pressured by allies to meet with Russia at the negotiating table.

Since August 2022, explosions and fires have regularly been reported on the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula and Sevastopol, Crimea's largest city. On Oct. 8, massive explosion occurred on the Crimean Bridge, illegally built by Russia in 2018 to connect Russia with Crimea, partially destroying the portion that carried railway traffic.

Russia has occupied Crimea since it annexed the peninsula in 2014 in the wake of the EuroMaidan Revolution that ousted then-President Viktor Yanukovych.

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