Partisans of the Atesh movement told Kyiv Post that they risk arrest and worse for their operations against Russian forces on occupied Ukrainian lands and sometimes inside Russia.

Recently they conducted a comprehensive reconnaissance of the Saky airfield in Russian-occupied Crimea, revealing the exact number of aircraft stationed there.

“The reconnaissance was conducted by a Ukrainian (agent),” the Atesh representatives said.

“The significance of this information [on aircraft numbers] is truly paramount. Our movement and the Defense Forces need to be aware of the enemy’s capabilities,” they said.

The partisans revealed via Telegram that their agents have recently been actively engaged in reconnaissance of the strategic airfield in Novofedorivka, better known as Saky airfield.

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“This airfield is strategically important, as it serves as the main departure point for Russian fighter jets conducting attacks on Ukraine,” the report said.

Atesh [a word that means “fire” in Crimean Tatars’ language] is a military partisan group that operates in the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, such as Crimea and the Donbas region, as well as inside Russia. They have been working against the Kremlin in reconnaissance missions, sabotage operations and other roles in coordination with Ukraine’s military and intelligence communities.

In a conversation with Kyiv Post, the partisans said that their agents document the condition and changes in equipment and air defense measures.

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“Not everything can be learned from satellite images. Additionally, we are looking for vulnerabilities in the enemy’s defenses,” said the Atesh members.

During the reconnaissance, Atesh agents recorded approximately 10 Su-30 fighters, which indicates the importance of the airfield as “a platform for air operations.”

The partisans also identified air defense equipment and Kasta-2E2 radar stations, indicating a high level of protection for the airfield.

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The Kasta-2E2 radar is tasked with monitoring airspace and providing locations of air targets, especially those flying at extremely low altitudes, to air defense control systems. Moreover, Ukrainian media has indicated that these radar stations are relatively rare, emphasizing their significance in controlling airspace within airfield areas.

“This is only a fraction of the intelligence we gathered. All information has been relayed to the Defense Forces of Ukraine, and we await positive news from them,” the partisans added.

The Kyiv Post sources said that such operations are very dangerous, explaining: “The agent risks being detained. Important objects like these are heavily guarded.”

Earlier, Ukrainian Ground Forces, in coordination with intelligence agents and the Air Force, conducted a special operation on Jan. 4, destroying Russian ammunition depots and radar stations in temporarily occupied Crimea.

The targets included Russian radar positions at the Saky airfield (near Novofedorivka village) and an ammunition depot near the village of Hryshyne.

On Sept. 21, 2023, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reported a successful attack on Russia’s Saky military airfield, resulting in damage to multiple aircraft, vital equipment, and the loss of at least 30 Russian troops.

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According to an SBU source who spoke with Kyiv Post, Ukrainian drones overwhelmed Russian air defenses, creating openings that Neptune missiles exploited during the operation.

The source mentioned the presence of approximately 12 Su-24 and Su-30 combat aircraft, Pantsir anti-aircraft missile and gun systems, and a training base for operators of the Iranian Mohajer-6 UAV at the airfield during the attack.

Although specific details about the extent of the damage were not provided, the source said that Russian telegram channels confirmed significant destruction and casualties, with reports indicating at least 30 dead soldiers.

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