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Blasts at Crimea airfield take out Russian planes; deadly rocket fire in east Ukraine

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Smoke rises after explosions at the Saky airfield near the Novofedorovka settlement on the Crimean Peninsula on Tuesday. Ukrainian officials said on Thursday that the blasts took out hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Russian aircraft. Photo by Crimea Press Office/EPA-EFE
Smoke rises after explosions at the Saky airfield near the Novofedorovka settlement on the Crimean Peninsula on Tuesday. Ukrainian officials said on Thursday that the blasts took out hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Russian aircraft. Photo by Crimea Press Office/EPA-EFE

Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Several Russian warplanes have been destroyed in dramatic explosions at a base in Crimea, the part of Ukraine that was annexed by Russia eight years ago, according to satellite imagery.

The Russian planes were at the Saky base on the Crimean Peninsula. Following the explosions this week, a number of aircraft were destroyed. The Ukrainian Air Force said at least nine Russian planes were taken out.

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Ukrainian forces have not taken public responsibility for the attack, but the heavy damage was noted by Ukrainian adviser Anton Gerashchenko in a Twitter post.

Gerashchenko said in the post that the damage to the planes and helicopters was worth more than $1 billion.

Meanwhile, Russia rained more than 100 rockets on multiple targets in the Dnipropetrovsk region of Ukraine early Thursday. The attacks killed at least two people and injured almost a dozen, officials said.

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Dnipropetrovsk Gov. Valentin Reznichenko said the rockets hit four locations -- Nikopol, Chervonohrihorivska, Kryvorizka and Synelniky -- and damaged dozens of buildings.

The rocket fire also left thousands of residents without power. Rescuers are searching for survivors.

Ukrainian officials said that Russian rockets also hit Dnipro, the region's largest city. The full extent of damage there was not immediately reported.

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In return, Ukraine officials said forces hit Russian-occupied targets in the Beryslav district of Kherson and ammunition depots in Bashtanka and Barvinka. Russia also lost a command post in Chervonyi Maisk along the Dnipro River.

On Thursday, concern continued for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine. Moscow and Kyiv are blaming each other for fighting near the plant, which is the largest nuclear power station in Europe.

The head of the United Nations atomic energy watchdog called for access for inspectors to the plant so they can assess conditions and avert a "nuclear disaster."

Ukraine has accused Russia of using the facility as an area to fire rockets, knowing that Ukraine would hesitate to respond out of fear of damaging the nuke plant.

Britain's Defense Ministry said on Thursday that Russia appears to be struggling in efforts to resupply military vehicles.

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"[Russia's] military industrial capacity is now under significant strain, and the credibility of many of its weapon systems has been undermined by their association with Russian forces' poor performance in the Ukraine war," the ministry said in a tweet.

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