A RUSSIAN cruise missile was yards from causing an environmental disaster when it hit a Ukrainian chemical plant.
It exploded in a fireball and gouged a 10ft deep, 40ft wide crater just 100 yards from storage tanks at the sprawling fertiliser manufacturing plant.
About 120,000 tons of the toxic and explosive compressed liquid was stored at the facility in the southern port of Odessa.
A military source in Odessa told The Sun: “If the ammonia had gone up the results would have been catastrophic — the whole of the city could have been engulfed in a toxic cloud.
“It was the fourth time they have attempted this — at a time when the wind would have blown the chemical fallout towards Odessa city
“If the disaster they planned happened, they’d inevitably have accused Ukrainian forces of sabotaging their own facility.”
The attack at 5pm on Friday came after Russian propagandists began spreading stories in late April that a Ukrainian “provocation” was being prepared at the Port plant.
Workers reported a strong smell of ammonia in the air soon after the blast but contained serious damage.
Fighting was heaviest in eastern Donbas with invaders trying to trap the Ukrainians between Sievierodonetsk and Kramatorsk.
Defenders claimed to have repelled the first wave.