Ukraine war: Belarus denies reports of 8 explosions at airbase that ‘often’ hosts Russian jets
The Belarusian military on Thursday denied reports of explosions overnight near a military airfield in the Gomel region of southeastern Belarus, not far from the border with Ukraine.
“On 10 August, near 23:00 (20:00 GMT), during a control run, a vehicle caught fire after its engine was replaced,” the Belarusian defence ministry said in a statement.
“The fire was quickly brought under control. No one was injured,” the statement said.
A Belarusian Telegram channel, which specialises in monitoring the conflict in Ukraine, said earlier in the day that “at least eight explosions” occurred near a military airfield in Ziabrovka, in the Gomel region.
Franak Viacorka, an adviser to exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, said Russian military aircraft are often stationed at the airfield.
However, he said on Twitter that there was “no confirmation” at the moment that the explosions could be linked to Russian or Belarusian manoeuvres on the territory of this former Soviet republic.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power in Belarus since 1994, has allowed the Russian military to use his country’s territory to launch attacks into Ukraine since the invasion began on 24 February.
Explosions at strategic Russian-held locations
The report of explosions at a military base used by Russian aircraft is not the first of its kind this week.
On Tuesday, a series of explosions hit the Saky military air base in Russian-occupied Crimea, and although Moscow said it was an accident caused by someone smoking in an unauthorised area which caused no damage to aircraft, Ukraine has hinted that ‘partisan saboteurs’ were behind the incident – while satellite imagery appears to show at least seven destroyed Russian planes with others badly damaged.
Analysts said Ukraine most likely used anti-ship missiles to launch the strike – and in a tongue-in-cheek social media campaign the Ukrainian ministry of defence all but admitted they were behind the attack, warning Russian tourists they were in for “an unpleasantly hot summer break” if they visited “Ukranian Crimea.”
Meanwhile, on Wednesday there were multiple reports of explosions at one of the main bridges connecting Crimea with Russia.
Although there was no confirmation from Ukraine or Russia about any attack on the Chongar bridge, video showed thick smoke rising from the area, which is more than 100km into Russian-controlled air space.
Moscow has repeatedly said that any attacks on Crimea, which its forces occupied and annexed in 2014, would be a ‘red line’ in the conflict. The Kremlin has promised unspecified retaliation for any such strikes.
Some analysts have pointed out that Ukraine could be trying to cut off Russian forces in Crimea by destroying the main bridges, and reducing the impact their air force can have on the conflict in Ukraine by targeting the Saky air base.