Putin faces another setback in Crimea as Russian airbase suffers extensive damage

Ukraine: Western components found in Russian weapons

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The pictures appear to show three large craters and 20 destroyed aircraft, with the extent of the damage far greater than Moscow has admitted.

The photographs were captured by American satellite imaging company Planet after an attack on the airbase took place on Tuesday.

In the pictures at least three huge craters can be seen near jet ammunition storage facilities as well as fire damage.

Elliot Higgins from Bellingcat, an institution which analyses Russian losses in Ukraine, believes the craters could be from “strikes from a long-range munition”.

However, another view is that they were rigged and detonated remotely by Kyiv’s forces.

Mr Higgins also noted that there were “no impacts visible that look like they could be misses, so either they used very accurate weapons or they got very lucky”.

German journalist Julian Röpke also shared images on Twitter of the Russian SU-24 planes with obvious damage.

He posted: “The Su-24 are normally located on the central apron of Saki air base.

“My bet is on the darkest day in the history of the Russian Air Force.”

On Wednesday, the Ukrainian air force claimed it had destroyed nine Russian warplanes after a series of explosions at the airbase.

However, according to the images it appears that as many as 20 aircraft were destroyed, including the sophisticated SU-24s and SU-30s.

The Kremlin claimed that none of its aircraft had experienced any damage.

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Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs in Ukraine, Anton Gerashchenko, estimates that as much as $1billion (£820million) worth of damage has been caused.

The Institute for the Study of War in Washington DC has said it “could not independently determine what caused the explosions but noted that simultaneous blasts in two places at the base probably rule out an accidental fire”, reported The Telegraph.

It added: “The Kremlin has little incentive to accuse Ukraine of conducting strikes that caused the damage since such strikes would demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Russian air defence systems.”

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