Explosions hit Russian-held Mariupol at targets thought to be outside of Ukraine's strike range
A series of explosions are reported to have hit targets in Russian-occupied territory in areas such as Mariupol which had previously been thought to be beyond the range of Ukrainian strike capabilities.
At least 14 explosions have been reported around the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol since 21 February 2023, according to the latest Ministry of Defence (MOD) briefing.
Pro-Russian officials in Mariupol have said explosions happened in an "ammo cache at the airport, two fuel depots, and a steelworks that Russia uses as a military base".
The MOD Intelligence update went on to say: "Russia will likely be concerned that unexplained explosions are occurring in a zone it had probably previously assessed as beyond the range of routine Ukrainian strike capabilities."
Mariupol was heavily bombarded during the first months of the war, leading to devastating destruction throughout most of the city according to some reports.
Currently, Mariupol lies 80km from the frontline, which is why unexplained explosions are concerning to Russia, says the MOD.
The update also said: "Mariupol is important to Russia because it is the largest city Russia captured in 2022 that it still controls and sits on a key logistics route."
Mariupol is a city in Donetsk Oblast in the south-east of Ukraine and has been occupied by Russian forces since May 2022.
Earlier in February, the MOD reported that Russia has incorporated annexed Ukrainian territories into its Southern Military District as part of a major structural reform of the Russian military.
An MOD Defence Intelligence update highlighted the report by Russian news agency TASS that claimed Russian-occupied parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions "are being placed under the three-star command which is headquartered in Rostov-on-Don," a city in Russia.
The move comes after Russian defence minister Sergey Shoigu's announcement on 17 January of plans to implement large-scale military reforms until 2026 to expand Russia's conventional armed forces.
In a bid to further incorporate the southern regions of Ukraine into Russia, regional elections scheduled across the Russian Federation on 10 September 2023, are also planned to take place in the newly annexed Ukrainian territories on the same day.
"Incorporating the elections into same day of voting which is scheduled across Russia highlights the leadership's ambition to present the areas as integral parts of the Federation," said the MOD in an intelligence update on 6 February.
According to the MOD, this follows continued efforts to 'Russify' the occupied areas, which include revision of the education, communication, and transport systems.
Russia has tried to incorporate Mariupol, as well as its other annexed territories, into the Federation both militarily and politically.
Having unexplained explosions in its largest stronghold in Ukraine has left the occupier "concerned", according to the MOD.