Espreso. Global

Last week's explosions in Russia: Large-scale fire in Crimea, attack on Tambov Gunpowder Plant, Oskol Electrometallurgical Plant

8 July, 2024 Monday

Last week, a large fire raged in occupied Crimea, and Ukrainian drones struck the Tambov Powder Plant while also disrupting power to the Oskol Electrometallurgical Plant


Read more about explosions in Russia and the temporarily occupied territories in Espreso's weekly review.

Drone attacks on Russia's Tambov gunpowder plant, Belgorod and other regions, a fire in Kursk and a blown-up railroad track near Yekaterinburg

  • Last week began with over 30 drones over Russia. Russia's Ministry of Defense said that on the night of Monday, July 1, its air defense destroyed 36 allegedly Ukrainian drones over three regions. According to their data, these were 18 UAVs over the territory of Bryansk region, 9 drones over the Kursk region, and another 9 over the Belgorod region. Subsequently, it was reported that a unique facility of the Russian military-industrial complex, the Oskol Ugarov Electrometallurgical Plant, suffered serious damage from a drone attack. The Metallurgical Substation, one of the largest power substations in Europe, was affected. As a result of the operation, the Oskol Electrometallurgical Plant (OEMK) was completely deprived of power. It is noteworthy that the electrometallurgical plant holds exceptional importance for the Russian military-industrial complex. The facility specializes in producing high-quality steel, including special bar quality (SBQ) steels for automotive and mechanical engineering industries, utilizing blast-free direct reduction technology (MIDREX) and electric arc melting.
  • On Tuesday, July 2, the Russian Ministry of Defense again reported that its air defense forces had allegedly destroyed a number of drones overnight. This time over the territories of two Russian regions and the occupied Crimea. Over that night, 11 drones were allegedly intercepted and destroyed by regular air defense forces on the territory of Russia. Four drones were allegedly shot down over the territories of Belgorod and Bryansk regions and three more over Crimea.
  • Meanwhile, on the same day, a large-scale fire broke out in the center of the Russian city of Kursk. The central aviation technical base was on fire. The acting governor of the Kursk region, Alexei Smirnov, later said that the fire was localized and that there were no reports of casualties. At the same time, according to OSINT analysts, the 3754th Central Aviation Technical Base, military unit 13830, was on fire in Kursk.
  • On the night of July 3, explosions were heard in Novorossiysk, and the authorities reported an attack by unmanned boats on the city, which is home to the bulk of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The mayor of Novorossiysk, Andrey Kravchenko, urged local residents not to be in the open air near the sea.Residents of Novorossiysk reported powerful explosions on social media, and local Telegram channels also published the same information.
  • The next day, Russian troops were not at ease either, as Ukraine's Main Intelligence Directorate launched kamikaze drones to attack the Tambov Powder Plant in Russia on Thursday, July 4. The attack was carried out by several kamikaze drones. One of them successfully attacked a gunpowder plant in the city of Kotovsk. At the same time, the head of the Tambov region, Maksim Yegorov, noted that "there were no casualties or damage. The situation is under control". According to him, both UAVs were allegedly destroyed. "Of course, there were no hits. And there was no Tambov gunpowder plant in this case either," the representative of Ukraine's intelligence commented on the Russians' statement. 
  • Meanwhile, pro-Ukrainian guerrillas blew up a railroad track on the Trans-Siberian Railway near Yekaterinburg, preventing the delivery of North Korean ammunition to Russia. "Atesh agents managed to conduct a successful operation on the Trans-Siberian Railway near Yekaterinburg. As a result, they blew up a railroad track that was used to deliver North Korean ammunition," the movement's representatives said. The guerrillas add that information about this was leaked only in local public media, and journalists were not allowed to the scene. The repair team was allowed to arrive at the scene and start restoration work only after receiving a command from the regional FSB office. In Leningradskaya village, a fuel tank caught fire as a result of a drone attack. The Russian Emergencies Ministry did not provide official data on the area of the fire.
  • On the morning of July 7, Russia complained about an alleged nighttime drone attack on the Voronezh region. The Russians claim that drone debris caused a fire in a warehouse and the detonation of "explosive objects." Authorities have announced the evacuation of the population. "Last night, the air defense forces on duty detected and destroyed several UAVs over the territory of the Voronezh region. When their wreckage fell, a fire broke out in one of the warehouses. Detonation of explosive objects began in the Podgorensky district," wrote the head of the Voronezh region, Alexander Gusev. Later, he announced the introduction of a state of emergency within the settlement of Podgorensky district. So far, detonations of explosive objects are still ongoing, he noted.  According to his information, one of the explosions set fire to an outbuilding of a residential building. The fire has already been extinguished. There are no casualties. A section of the highway passing through the village is also blocked. The evacuation of citizens to temporary accommodation centers is underway. 

Damaged ammunition depot in the temporarily occupied Crimea, large fire near Alushta, strikes in Debaltseve and Novoluhanske, missiles in Melitopol

  • The week for the temporarily occupied Crimea began with the Ukrainian Air Force striking a Russian ammunition depot on Monday, July 1. "Once again, Ukrainian aircraft 'destroyed' by Russian propaganda continue to successfully perform combat missions, launch missile and bomb strikes on the Russian positions and eliminate important military facilities in the Russian deep rear," wrote the commander of the Ukrainian Air Force Mykola Oleshchuk.
  • "On July 6, an explosion occurred in the Mariupol-Berdiansk agglomeration at a Russian base, resulting in ambulances from various districts transporting dozens of wounded Russian soldiers. It's uncertain whether it was a strike or a detonation, as incidents of accidental explosions among Russians are known. However, there was a fire, and the number of Russian casualties was significant enough that ambulances were summoned not only from the Berdiansk district of Zaporizhzhia region but also from the Manhush district of Donetsk region within the Mariupol district," said Petro Andriushchenko, an advisor to the mayor of Mariupol. He added that there were at least dozens of heavily wounded occupants who were taken in the direction of Berdiansk.
  • In addition, on July 6, Ukrainian intelligence discovered and destroyed a Russian logistics center in occupied Debaltseve and an expensive Russian automated obstacle course in Novoluhanske. In particular, in Debaltseve, they struck the logistics center where Russian troops stored equipment for tanks and ammunition. In Novoluhanske, the Ukrainian military burned down an expensive Russian automated obstacle course station R-330Zh Zhitel.
  • Meanwhile, on the night of July 7, another large-scale fire broke out in Crimea. In Alushta, the Malyi Mayak gas distribution center caught fire at night. The fire spread to the forest. According to the Russian Emergencies Ministry, the fire was localized to an area of 1,500 square meters and continues to be extinguished.
  • And at the end of the Sunday afternoon, three hits on the airfield took place in occupied Melitopol. A fire started there. Collaborators reported HIMARS strikes. "At least three precise hits, resulting in fires at three locations. The largest smoke center is near the Kakhovka highway. We can hear ambulances rushing through the city. Melitopol residents have a holiday Sunday!" the media wrote.Later, they warned Melitopol residents that Russia would start looking for the "scapegoat." "Melitopol residents, be careful! They (Russian appointees - ed.) are having an aggravation - they will be looking for those responsible for their 'leaky' air defence. So take care of yourself!" the message read.Later, the outlet reported repeated explosions in the city: "First, there was a powerful explosion coming from the airfield, followed by continuous detonations. It is possible that the enemy's ammunition depot is exploding. However, the occupiers claim that it's 'reeds burning.'" According to RIA-Melitopol, Su-25, Ka-52, Mi-8, and a S-300 division are based at this airfield.

Expert opinions

Ukraine's intelligence spoke about the consequences of the shutdown of the Oskol Electrometallurgical Plant for the Russian military-industrial complex.

"This is the only full-cycle steelmaking enterprise in Russia. It has been shut down. And let's just say that in the coming months, it will be problematic to resume full operations there. This means complications and disruption of defense orders and supply chains," said Andriy Yusov, the intelligence representative.

Military expert Vladyslav Selezniov believes that Ukrainian Defense Forces are gradually working to reduce the Russian military presence in Crimea.

"Russia is losing its military presence in Crimea, although it is happening slowly. This is primarily due to Ukraine's Defense Forces destroying Russian military infrastructure in Crimea. When Russia is forced to relocate missile launchers closer to Novorossiysk, it signifies a reduction in military presence. Similarly, the loss of air defense and missile defense capabilities in Crimea weakens the combat readiness of the Russian troops on the peninsula. Destruction of Russian ammunition depots and equipment in Crimea further undermines their military strength," expert stated.

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