The Ukrainian military assessed the significance of the strike on the air base in Belarus.
On the night of August 11, explosions were heard and flashes were seen in Belarus near the Ziabrauka military airfield near Homel. The Belarusian Hajun project was the first to report this; later information about the incident on the territory of the airfield was confirmed by the Ministry of Defense of Belarus. True, the department said that the engine of “one of the pieces of equipment” caught fire on the territory of the airfield.
What kind of airfield it is, what danger it posed for Ukraine, and what is known about the night incident at the airfield, tells Yury Ihnat, a representative of the command of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, on the air of Real Time.
— Do you have information about what actually happened at the Ziabrauka airfield near Homel?
— Of course we don't have any information. We have the same information that you just mentioned. There are intelligence agencies — they probably know more. The Air Force can say what they have said about the strategic importance of this airfield. We clearly imagine how much aviation equipment is located there. We constantly see where planes take off from the territory of Belarus, their activity in the sky. And those anti-aircraft missile systems that are located there, and the Iskander systems that fire on the territory of Ukraine.
— And what kind of equipment: are these attack aircraft, fighters, Il-76 transport aircraft?
— I will say that without exception, all the airfields of Belarus have been used by the military space forces of the occupiers since the first day of the war. If there is a certain strategic importance for them to use this particular airfield, then aviation will be relocated there. Just as the Tu-22M3s were relocated from south to north to the Shaikovka airfield, so Russian fighters can move from one airfield to another — there are no special problems for aviation here.
Fighter aircraft operate mainly in the northern regions of Ukraine — this is the Republic of Belarus — and in the east of the country, which constantly patrols in the airspace of Russia and Belarus. In the south, after the explosions in Saki yesterday, an absolute decrease in aviation activity was noted. There, constantly from the bay of Sevastopol in the direction of the Snake Island and below in the Black Sea, we observed Russian aviation 24/7. Yesterday the Crimea was actually empty. That’s the situation.
— You are talking about extermination activity in Ziabrauka. That is, fighter jets are aircraft that must hit targets in the air. These are not bombers that bomb Ukraine on the ground?
— Basically, during the war, fighter jets were stationed at the Baranavichy airfield. Ziabrauka, as your speaker has already said before me, is located in close proximity to the border with Ukraine. As I said, they can redeploy any equipment. Il-76 aircraft were also seen, which supply weapons. Russia's fighter aviation, which is currently in service with the aggressor country, is multi-role fighters. They can attack both air and ground targets. That is, carry cruise missiles that can operate on the ground. Therefore, now aviation is not particularly divided into fighters and bombers. The bombers that operate from the Shaikovka airfield, Tu-22M3, they have their own type of weapons — these are Kh-22 missiles, which are used by the invaders, as well as Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers, which almost always operate from the north of the Caspian seas. The Kh-101 and Kh-555 missiles are already mainly used there.
— Do Ukrainian intelligence or the Air Force of Ukraine have data that there were bangs and explosions at the Ziabrauka airfield, and if these explosions occurred, then why is there no information about the damaged equipment? We have already sorted out which aircraft were damaged in Novofedorivka. What happened in Ziabrauka?
— Unfortunately, this question is not for the Air Force. We have official resources — the Ministry of Defense — if they deem it necessary, they will reveal this information. The Air Force has no such information to make public.
""Зябровку" использовали с первого дня войны. Оттуда отправили российский десант в Гостомель. Сейчас похоже, что взорвался самолет или вертолет с боекомплектом. О диверсии у нас информации нет". Александр Азаров из проекта BYPOL о взрывах в Беларуси pic.twitter.com/Z2C0gbJ8IS— Настоящее Время (@CurrentTimeTv) August 11, 2022
— In your opinion, is it a coincidence that explosions occur day after day — first in Novofedorivka, then in Ziabrauka?
— Possibly a coincidence. We have already heard what officials from both Russia and our country are saying: fire, you need to be extremely careful, do not smoke in parking lots.
— Nevertheless, the Air Force of Ukraine was the first to publish the number of damaged equipment at the airfield in Novofedorivka. The figure was indicated there: Saki — 9 aircraft. Now there is some final figure after the publication of satellite images: exactly how many aircraft were damaged?
— The Air Force has published the data of the General Staff, which keeps a daily record of the losses of the enemy. There were counted 9 aircraft. After the already published satellite images, we can say that more equipment was damaged: some were completely destroyed, and some were badly burned. But we understand that some of the equipment could be removed before the pictures were taken, so here you need to wait for intelligence sources to know exactly how many were destroyed. But we see in the pictures that a significant part of the equipment was completely destroyed.
— According to your estimates, after what happened, the Saki airfield is suitable for further use?
— I think yes. There was no global destruction there. The most important thing at an airfield is a runway from which fighter jets can take off and land. Even if it was damaged, it can be quickly repaired: airfield plates are changed. And they will also bring equipment: both aircraft and maintenance.
— But nevertheless, flight activity in the north and south of Ukraine and in the occupied Crimea has decreased.