The blasts were heard in the early hours of Thursday morning, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
The bloggers added that there were “at least eight explosions,” as shockwaves were felt and the clouded skies lit up several times.
“The blasts occurred in the direction of the Ziabrovka airfield,” in the southern Homel region that borders Ukraine, the Belarusian activists said, as cited by the PAP news agency.
UK to send more M270 rocket systems to Ukraine
Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on Thursday announced that London would provide Ukraine with three additional M270 multiple-launch rocket systems, the Ukrainska Pravda website reported.
Speaking at a donor conference for Ukraine in Copenhagen, Denmark, Wallace said the new shipment would double the number of British M270 launchers at Ukraine’s disposal, adding that Kyiv would also receive a “significant” number of rockets for them.
"Our continued support sends a very clear message: Britain and the international community remain opposed to this illegal war and will stand side by side in providing defensive military assistance to Ukraine to help it defend itself against Putin's invasion," the British defence minister said.
The M270 system can hit targets at a distance of up to 80 kilometres, Ukrainska Pravda reported.
Two dead as Russia shells Ukraine’s Nikopol
Meanwhile, Russian forces shelled the southeastern Ukrainian city of Nikopol on Wednesday night, killing two people and injuring seven, according to the head of the regional administration, Valentyn Reznichenko, the PAP news agency reported.
Russian attacks kill 11 in Donetsk
In the eastern Donetsk region, Russian shelling killed 11 people and injured eight over the past 24 hours, the head of the regional authorities, Pavlo Kirilenko, announced, as quoted by PAP.
Ukraine says Crimea attack begins counteroffensive: ISW
The US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported that “Ukrainian officials framed the August 9 attack in Crimea as the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the south, suggesting that the Ukrainian military expects intense fighting in August and September that could decide the outcome of the next phase of the war.”
In its latest analysis of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, published on Wednesday night, the US think tank noted that a "Ukrainian official told Politico on August 10 that ‘you can say this is it’ when asked about the start of Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive.”
In addition, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "vaguely noted on August 10 that the war ‘began with Crimea and must end with Crimea - with its liberation,’” the US experts said.
According to the ISW’s assessment, Russian officials remained "confused about the August 9 attack on the Saki Air Base in Russian-occupied Crimea, over 225 km behind Russian lines, which destroyed at least eight Russian aircraft and multiple buildings.”
'Evident Russian confusion surrounding the attack'
Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, were "playing up the evident Russian confusion surrounding the attack to obfuscate Ukraine‘s longer-range capabilities,” the think tank said.
It noted that “an anonymous Ukrainian official told the New York Times that the attack was carried out with the help of partisans,” while another anonymous Ukrainian official “told the Washington Post that Ukrainian special forces caused the explosion.”
Meanwhile, other Ukrainian officials “implicitly referenced the attack but did not overtly take credit for it," according to the ISW.
The ISW said that so far, it “cannot independently assess what caused the explosions at the airfield—satellite imagery depicts multiple craters and scorch marks, but such damage could have been caused by many things--special forces, partisans, or missiles, on-site or from a distance.”
The think tank reported that “Ukrainian forces have various systems that they could have used or modified to hit Russian military infrastructure in Crimea or southern Kherson Oblast.”
Russia to postpone annexation referenda?
The ISW also reported that "the Kremlin’s changing plans suggest that occupying forces will likely move up the date of the annexation referenda in occupied Ukraine.”
An advisor to Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast Civil Military Administration, Serhiy Khlan, stated on Wednesday that “occupation forces have stopped discussing September 11 as a date for Russia’s sham referenda on the annexation of occupied Ukrainian territories,” the US experts said.
The ISW previously reported that “September 11, the date that polling will be held in local and regional elections across the Russian Federation,” was the most likely date “for annexation referenda to be held.”
According to Khlan, Russian occupation forces had referred to September 11 as the date of the pseudo-referenda, “but now the dates are again unclear,” as cited by the ISW.
The US experts warned that “the political, military, economic, and other consequences of a prolonged Russian military occupation of southern and eastern Ukraine would be devastating to the long-term viability of the Ukrainian state.”
Russia to ‘steal’ Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
The ISW also reported that the head of Ukraine's state nuclear power company Energoatom, Petro Kotin, “suggested that Ukrainian forces interrupt power lines leading to the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) should Russian forces start disconnecting the ZNPP from the Ukrainian power system.”
Kotin told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that “Russian forces intend to damage all power lines to the ZNPP and connect the plant to the Russian power grid,” effectively stealing the ZNPP from the Ukrainians, the US think tank said.
Russia fails in counteroffensives around Kharkiv City
Reviewing the latest frontline developments, the US analysts said that “Russian forces conducted ground attacks west of Izyum,” in northeastern Ukraine.
Russian troops also “continued limited ground assaults northeast and west of Bakhmut" in eastern Ukraine "and likely made marginal gains in these areas,” according to the ISW.
The US think tank reported that Russian troops “made marginal gains northwest of Donetsk City" and were "continuing attempts to push northwestward from current footholds on the outskirts of Donetsk City” in eastern Ukraine.
In addition, Russian forces "conducted multiple unsuccessful offensives north and northeast of Kharkiv City” in northeastern Ukraine and “conducted an unsuccessful reconnaissance-in-force operation in northwestern Kherson Oblast” in southern Ukraine, the ISW said.
Thursday is day 169 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Source: PAP, pravda.com.ua, understandingwar.org