Following explosions this week at a Crimean airbase, satellite photographs appear to show significant damage and a number of wrecked Russian jets.

Tuesday’s explosions at the Saky facility in the western part of the Crimean peninsula under Russian control left one person dead. The runways at the base seem to be unharmed, but at least eight of the aircraft look to have cratered or otherwise damaged.

Although Ukraine has not admitted guilt, this additional information raises the prospect of a deliberate strike. The photographs, which were taken by the US-based Planet Labs, reveal large areas of scorched earth.

The majority of the damaged or destroyed aircraft are located in a particular region of the base where a large number of planes were stationed in the open – far from the protection of hangars.

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The first independent confirmation that the base may have been damaged comes from Planet Labs, which keeps track of hundreds of satellite feeds over Ukraine. There have not been many details available up until now regarding the impact of the explosions.

It is still unclear how or by what the base was damaged.

Russia is adamant that broken fire safety regulations led to ammunition exploding in a store.

“I think that Russian military guys in this airbase ruined their very simply known rule: don’t smoke in dangerous places,” stated Minister of defence Oleksiy Reznikov. “That’s it.”

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Although Russia denied any aircraft had been damaged, the Ukrainian air force claimed that about a dozen Russian warplanes had been destroyed.

Ben Wallace, the UK’s defence secretary, proposed that the fact that there were multiple explosions suggests an attack rather than a mistake. He also defended Ukraine’s right to pursue Crimea.

“It’s absolutely legitimate for Ukraine to take lethal force, if necessary… in order to regain not only its territory, but also to push back its invader,” He informed the UK’s BBC news.

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Any attack by Ukraine inside of Crimea would be viewed as a war escalation. Moscow issued a caution last month when ex-President Dmitry Medvedev threatened that If Ukraine attacked Crimea, “Judgement Day will instantly await.”

Internationally, Crimea is recognised as being a part of Ukraine; however, in 2014, Russia annexed the peninsula in the Black Sea. Many Ukrainians believe that this marked the beginning of their war with Russia.

Following Tuesday’s explosions, President Volodymyr Zelensky dedicated his nightly address to Crimea, implying that Ukraine must retake the peninsula before the war can be declared over.

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