Russians flee huge fire at arms storage depot near Ukraine border
Locals of two Russian villages in the Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine were forced to flee after a huge fire engulfed a nearby ammunition storage depot late on Thursday, officials said.
No casualties were reported in the blaze, said Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Belgorod.
Residents of the two southern Russian villages Timxonovo and Soloti, just 15 km away, were taken to a safe distance by the district head, the governor said in a Telegram message.
Emergency services are on the scene and the cause of the fire is under investigation, the regional governor said.
Preliminary visuals of the ammunition warehouse showed plumes of thick white smoke emerging from the depot after the explosion.
Several fire engines were also seen parked near the site of the explosion, the video showed.
An ammunition depot is on fire in Timonovo, 30 km from the Ukrainian border in Russia's Belgorod Oblast
Oblast governor Gladkov says residents of Timonovo & neighboring village are being evacuated https://t.co/rorUwviRRC
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) August 18, 2022
The Independent has not been able to verify the authenticity of the video shared on social media.
Kyiv did not immediately release a statement on the explosion, which comes on the heels of a series of explosions at an ammunition depot in Crimea on Tuesday.
More than 3,000 people were evacuated after a second suspected Ukrainian attack on the Russian-controlled peninsula.
Russian officials blamed the series of explosions on an “act of sabotage” but did not directly pin the blame on Ukraine.
Officials in Kyiv did not publicly claim responsibility for any of the blasts, including the powerful explosion at the Crimean air base last week in which nine Russian planes were destroyed.
Moscow later said the blast was caused by an accident.
However, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky pointed to the attacks behind enemy lines in a video address on Tuesday night and thanked individuals “who oppose the occupiers in their rear”.
The president also cautioned people to not go anywhere near Russian military installations and storage sites for ammunition and equipment in the same video address.
Almost six months into the Ukraine invasion, Russia has not been able to make significant advances in the country despite making sizable gains in the country’s east since last month.
War frontlines have remained static for weeks.
Officials in Kyiv have said they were preparing for a counter-offensive in a bid to capture regions in the southern territory which have slipped out of their control.
On the diplomatic front, Mr Zelensky met Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN chief Antonio Guterres in a first high-level visit made by a top representative from Turkey after Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February.
The talks, aimed at de-escalation and bringing both countries to the negotiation table, have not reported any immediate progress. Turkey has offered to be a “mediator and facilitator” between both the countries.