1) The explosion in Donetsk:
Russian TV has just shown footage of the crater left by the explosion and it is absolutely huge. See for yourself:
The crater is about 10m (30 ft) deep. It is located on the territory of a chemical factory, but it did not hit any of the main buildings. Whether there was any building at the actual location of the explosion is impossible to tell: the earth is black, all the trees scorched and there is nothing left at all. DNR experts estimate the blast as being the equivalent of 1 ton of TNT. The sound of the explosion was heard 50km away. From the shape of the crater, it doe not appear to be a fuel-air explosive (FAE), but 1 ton of equivalent TNT is way bigger than the 500kg HE warhead the Tochka-U can carry. This leads me to believe that the Ukrainians might have used a new weapon or, at least, a modified one. All we know for sure is that it was not a nuclear device. Also, it makes me wonder what in the world they were trying to hit - maybe the chemicals factory, but if that it the case, then the missed by 1000m or so. At this point, I honestly don't know. I also want to remind everybody that the junta has used White Phosphorus again against its own population:
But the "West" apparently has no problem with any of that and does not care about the laws of war. What else is knew?
2) The Ukrainian currency (the Grivna) is in free fall:
Of course, this is not surprising in the least and, in fact, it was inevitable. I have been saying it for months now: the Ukrainian economy is dead. Completely dead.
3) A Russian Air Force base in Cyprus?
You have probably seen the reports: apparently Cyprus intends to offer Russia the use of an airfield in Cyprus. Some Russian experts are dismissing this offer as useless. I disagree. While, of course, this base is not needed to protect any Russian military assets in the region (simply because there are none), it happens to be located in the very sensitive eastern Mediterranean:
Do you remember when Russia sent an Naval Task Force to the Syrian coast to provide radar coverage to the Syrians and thereby prevent a US surprise attack with cruise missiles or aircraft? If the Russians had a base in Cyprus and if such a situation happened again, the Russian Air Force could provide much needed support for a Russian Naval Task Force. Also, considering that Cyprus is near Israel and Egypt and that Iraq is not far either, the central location for such a military base could be very useful for Russia. So while this basis - if it happens - would not be a war-fighting base, it could provide excellent support in times of crisis.
That's it for now. I hope for a full SITREP tonight.