‘Demilitarization in action’: Ukraine trolls Russia after more Crimea explosions

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A munitions depot in Russian-annexed Crimea exploded early Tuesday in the village of Mayskoye, prompting a senior Ukrainian official to declare it “Demilitarization in action.”

The blasts wrecked railway tracks, injured two people and left 2,000 people stranded, according to video footage, which showed flames and smoke rising into the sky, and local press reports. The Russian defense ministry admitted Tuesday that the explosions were the result of “sabotage.”

Taunting Russian President Vladimir Putin over the destruction, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted: “A reminder: Crimea […] is about the Black Sea, mountains, recreation and tourism, but Crimea occupied by Russians is about warehouses [sic] explosions and high risk of death for invaders and thieves. Demilitarization in action.”

Mykhailo Podolyak’s remarks took aim at Putin, who has claimed the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine aimed to bring about the “demilitarization and denazification” of its neighbor.

While it’s not yet clear what caused Tuesday’s explosions, several Russian aircraft were also destroyed last week in Crimea, in a strike that Ukrainian officials told POLITICO marked the beginning of a counteroffensive in the south.

The Russian side also said Tuesday’s incident was the result of a fire at the munitions depot. Sergey Aksyonov, the top Russian official in Crimea, said on his Telegram channel that train traffic would resume shortly, and that buses were provided to passengers so they could continue their journeys. POLITICO could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

Zelenskyy said in his Monday nightly address that Kyiv’s strategy is to destroy Russian ammunition depots adding that “all Russian terrorists should know that every meter of Ukrainian land is an absolute danger for them.”

Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014, and was used by the Russian forces as a base from which to capture areas of southern Ukraine in the full-scale invasion that began in February.