The war in Ukraine began with Crimea and must end with its liberation.

That's what President Volodymyr Zelensky said, speaking just hours after a series of explosions hit a Russian airbase there, killing one person.

Zelensky did not mention the explosions, but dedicated his late-night speech to the peninsula, saying: "Crimea is Ukrainian and we will never give it up."

Russia has played down the blasts and a senior Ukrainian adviser denied that Ukraine was responsible.

Crimea is officially part of Ukraine, but was annexed by Russia in 2014 following a referendum that the international community considers illegal.

And many Ukrainians see this as the beginning of their war with Russia.

On Tuesday, a series of explosions rocked the Saky military base near Novofedorivka, in western Crimea, which is near seaside resorts popular with Russian tourists.

The Russian defense ministry insisted the explosions were caused by munitions exploding in a warehouse - although this has not been independently verified.

While Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak denied that Ukraine was behind the explosions, telling online TV channel Dozhd: "Of course not.

What do we have to do with this?".

Any attack on Crimea by Ukraine would be considered "deeply serious by Moscow".

Russia issued a warning last month when former president Dmitry Medvedev threatened that "Doomsday will await immediately" if Ukraine targeted Crimea.

Zelensky did not refer to the explosions in his speech on Tuesday, but spoke at length about the peninsula, saying: "We will not forget that Russia's war against Ukraine began with the annexation of Crimea."

"This Russian war...started with Crimea and must end with Crimea - with its liberation," he said.

Zelensky's recent remarks suggest he believes Ukraine should retake the peninsula before the war ends - but he has said different things on the matter in the past.

He previously indicated that Ukraine could accept peace if Russia returned to its positions before February 24, meaning that retaking Crimea would not be considered a demand.