After the explosions at the Saki military base in Crimea, the Russian Black Sea Fleet stationed on the occupied peninsula appears to be still severely limited in its operational capability.

“Naval aviator flight capability is now significantly reduced.

The incident is likely to prompt the Russian military to revise its threat perception," Britain's MoD said on Friday of Tuesday's attack.

Gerhard Gnauck

Political correspondent for Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania based in Warsaw.

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"It seems to be a new strategy of the Ukrainians to also attack air force bases in the depths of the Russian attack area," says Joachim Krause, head of the Institute for Security Policy at the University of Kiel, the FAZ. He was "curious" whether a base will soon be opened Russian territory - i.e. not in Crimea, which has been occupied since 2014.

In this context, Krause mentions an incident on Thursday night when an air force base in Belarus, also operated by Russia, is said to have been attacked.

Uncertainty "war psychologically intended"

So far, Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attack on the base in Crimea.

Military expert Krause says that too little is actually known about the explosions.

The most common hypothesis is that the Ukrainians deployed homemade "Grim" missiles, which appear to have a range of more than 280 kilometers.

But it is unclear how they could have overcome the S-400 air defense system.

Krause considers the alternative hypothesis, according to which the attack was carried out by partisans with mortars or drones, to be weaker.

The impact craters shown on satellite images are again too large for this.

Kiev's reluctance also has another reason.

"War is definitely not the time for vanity and loud statements," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday evening.

The less details are known, the better for the defense of Ukraine.

A certain degree of insecurity could be “intentional from the point of view of war psychology,” says Krause.

However, one could say at the latest with the destruction in Crimea: "The Ukrainians are taking the initiative." So far it has been Russia that has seized the initiative.

"Now you can see that the Russians want to dig in and hold ground in many places."

However, it can be assumed that Russia will adapt to the changed threat situation.

There is a lack of weapons and trained personnel.

But "the Russians have proven that they can learn from past mistakes," says Krause.

The military expert expects pragmatic consequences from the Russian military leadership: "They will probably continue to withdraw combat aircraft - to a radius that is outside the assumed range of these possible new missiles." However, this also means that the operational capability of the Russian aircraft will be reduced.

So it would be of some benefit to the Ukrainians if they could force the Russians to withdraw their planes from the outlying bases.

Not only official version spread in Russia

In Russia, images of fleeing Russian tourists on the beach and later of vehicles queuing on the bridge between Crimea and mainland Russia are circulating, particularly on social media.

Although the Ministry of Defense in Moscow had presented a version early on, according to which ammunition had detonated on the airfield only because of fire safety violations, the Russian media often spoke of several possible scenarios.

The Defense Department's version was not directly contradicted, but other possible causes were cited.