Russian space control centre in Crimea struck by missiles

Russian space-tracking and communications centre in flames
The Russian space-tracking and communications centre in flames

Huge fires were recorded by satellites at the scene of a suspected Ukrainian ATACMS strike on a Russian-controlled space control centre in Crimea.

Photographs taken by Nasa’s Firms fire-monitoring system picked up two distinct large blazes near the NIP-16 space communications complex in the village of Vitino, on the occupied peninsula’s western coast.

Separate satellite images captured by Sentinel appeared to back up claims of large-scale blazes on the grounds of the site.

The details emerged after reports of Ukrainian forces launching multiple US-supplied ATACMS in the direction of Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Footage shared on social media appeared to show four Ukrainian M270 rocket launchers firing eight missiles into the night sky on Sunday night.

Shortly afterwards, Crimean Wind, a local channel on the Telegram messaging app, shared a separate video that suggested that the space communications centre had been hit during the ATACMS raid.

Other channels shared reports from locals claiming to have heard loud explosions and reports of ambulances being dispatched to the area.

The complex is known to house systems for deep space communications that support manned and robotic space missions.

It had reportedly been struck by an air-launched British-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missile in a raid in December last year.

There are understood to be other Russian military installations positioned in the area.

Open source researchers on social media suggested a Krasukha electronic warfare radar jammer had been positioned on the complex.

Ukraine has significantly ramped-up its long-range attacks against Russian targets in Crimea since the US secretly donated an unspecified number of ATACMS.

The medium-range ballistic missiles are fired from ground launchers, such as Himars, with the more powerful models supplied to Kyiv capable of hitting targets close to 190 miles away with conventional or cluster munition warheads.

Russian authorities have not commented on the latest strikes, while Kyiv has also refrained from claiming responsibility.

Ukrainian officials are waiting for a battle damage assessment before confirming the attack, The Telegraph understands.

Cloud cover over Crimea has made it hard for satellite images to be taken of any potential damage.

It was only possible to depict burns on the grass in the first low-resolution photographs captured and released on social media.

The Telegraph was not able to independently verify any damage.

Warning of ‘consequences’

The Kremlin on Monday warned there would be “consequences” for America, as it accused Washington of being directly involved in deadly strikes on the occupied peninsula.

“Of course, the involvement of the United States of America in hostilities, direct involvement in hostilities that result in the death of Russian civilians, this, of course, cannot but have consequences,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying.

“What exactly – time will tell.”

Russia claimed to have intercepted four of five ATACMS reportedly fired in the direction of Belbek airfield, which Russia uses to launch fighter jets that regularly target civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

A fifth was said to have detonated mid-air after being struck by air defences, with falling shrapnel killing four people and injuring 151 on a beach on the ground.

Footage showed bathers flying from beaches as loud explosions rang out above.

A report by the Russian state-owned Tass news agency said Lynn Tracy, the US ambassador to Moscow, had been summoned by the foreign ministry in response to the alleged attacks.

Ukraine did not comment on the attacks.