(WASHINGTON) The Pentagon on Friday insisted it had no information on the cause of the explosion at a Russian military base in Crimea, while insisting the United States had not supplied Kiev with any weapons that would have allowed it to carry out such a strike.
Posted at 3:35 pm.
Updated at 4:34 p.m.
The Russian military airport of Sagi in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, was heavily damaged on Tuesday by a series of explosions accidentally delivered by Moscow, but which experts said were attributed to an attack by Ukrainian forces.
Kyiv did not claim responsibility for the attack and several explosions, filmed by witnesses who later posted videos on social networks, remain unexplained.
“We don’t have anything to indicate whether a missile was launched or not, I can’t say whether there was sabotage or not,” a senior US military official told reporters. ” I do not know “.
“What I can tell you is that this is not an ATACMS strike because we are not giving them ATACMS,” said the senior official on condition of anonymity, referring to the tactical ballistic missiles with a range of up to 300 km. Trying to convince Washington to supply.
Compatible with Ukrainian forces already equipped with Himars precision artillery systems, the missiles would allow Kyiv to strike targets deep in areas controlled by Moscow, something the United States has sought to avoid for fear of extending the conflict to NATO countries.
“We didn’t give them anything that could attack Crimea or help them,” the senior military official noted.
However, he stressed that the US does not control Ukraine’s military.
“What we want the Ukrainians to do is fight the Russians the way they want,” he said.
“We have told them in the past that we are supplying them with ammunition to fight the Russians in Ukraine,” he added. “Other than that, this is a Ukrainian war. They are the ones who choose the targets”.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, but the annexation is not recognized by the international community.
Without attributing the attack to Ukrainian forces, the senior official stressed that it had a “relatively significant impact” on the Russian air force.
British military intelligence estimated on Friday that at least five Russian Su-24 fighter-bombers and three SU-30 multirole aircraft were destroyed or heavily damaged, but the airstrip was “probably” still usable.
“Sagi was primarily a base for Russian Black Sea Fleet aircraft,” military intelligence tweeted. “The Navy’s naval aviation capabilities are now drastically reduced”.