Ukraine’s air force said that nine Russian warplanes were destroyed during a strike on an air base in Crimea, The Associated Press reports.
Ukraine is believed to be behind a string of explosions at the air base in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
Russia on Tuesday denied that any of its planes were damaged or that any attack had taken place at all.
Ukrainian officials did not publicly take credit for the strike but mocked Russia’s claim that a careless smoker may have caused ammunition at the base to catch fire.
The strike would mark the first major attack in Crimea, which was seized nearly eight years earlier.
Russian forces have used the base to launch attacks on southern Ukraine.
Crimea is a strategically key area. The Kremlin has demanded for years that Ukraine recognize Crimea as part of Russia while Ukraine has demanded that Russia withdraw from the region.
“This Russian war against Ukraine and against all of free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea — its liberation,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said hours after the strike.
Were US weapons used?
“Official Kyiv has kept mum about it, but unofficially the military acknowledges that it was a Ukrainian strike,” Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said, according to the AP.
The strike likely would have required longer-range missiles than the HIMARS launchers provided by the U.S. are capable of. The US has ruled out providing longer-range weapons but the strike raised suspicions that Ukraine had finally obtained them.
US congressional staffers said they were unaware of such missiles being supplied by the U.S.