Witnesses near the western Russian city of Belgorod saw a series of massive explosions on Tuesday night.
A video taken near the Russian city and shared on social media showed a huge fireball in the distance. The video showed flashes and apparent secondary explosions and some social media users speculated the explosion took place at an ammunition depot.
In a Tuesday Facebook post, Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov also said the explosion was the result of a Ukrainian strike on a Russian rocket artillery warehouse. According to the Daily Mail, Butusov said the strike was carried out with an OTR-21 Tochka-U ballistic missile, launched by Ukraine’s 19th missile brigade, though the Ukrainian military has yet to confirm this detail.
Reuters reported Belgorod regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said the explosion took place near the village of Krasny Oktyabr, located about 19 miles southwest of Belgorod.
A source within Russian emergency services told Russia’s state-run TASS news agency that a shell landed near a temporary military camp in the Belgorod region on Tuesday, injuring four service members. TASS reported preliminary information indicating the shell was launched in a Ukrainian attack. It was not immediately clear if this strike on the military camp was part of the same explosion seen near Krasny Oktyabr, or a separate incident entirely.
The village of Krasny Okytabr is located about 12 miles from the Russian-Ukrainian border and about 32 miles from the northern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. The Ukrainian city has seen heavy fighting throughout the month-old conflict with Russia and may have even been targeted with controversial thermobaric weapons.
The reported Ukrainian strike inside Russia’s established borders comes hours after Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin announced the Moscow government decided to reduce its military activity in the area around the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv to “increase mutual trust and create conditions for further negotiations.” While the Russian military announced its plans to reduce combat activity in Ukraine’s north, it said that does not mean a ceasefire is in effect.
It is unclear how a Ukrainian attack inside Russia might impact negotiations going forward.
Russia and Ukraine have both seen thousands killed and injured in the fighting so far.
As of Tuesday, the Ukrainian side claimed Russia had lost around 17,200 personnel, along with 127 airplanes, 129 helicopters, 597 tanks, 1,710 armored personnel vehicles, 54 anti-aircraft systems, 96 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), 303 artillery pieces, 73 fuel trucks, 71 tactical level drones, seven naval vessels, 21 pieces of special equipment, four short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) launchers and other 1178 ground vehicles.