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A mysterious fireball was spotted breaking up in the sky over southern Russia on Wednesday, videos shared by locals show.

Footage showing the unknown flying object was shared on social media by residents from several regions, including Stavropol Krai, the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, Krasnodar Krai, and the Republic of Kalmykia. Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported that some residents believed it was a falling meteorite or comet, while others said they thought they had seen a satellite or an "enemy object."

The videos showed the fireball breaking up into multiple parts as it moved slowly across the night sky. Newsweek has not independently verified the footage.

This comes weeks after social media users reported seeing mysterious spiral UFO sightings across the United States and Europe. Interest in unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) peaked last year after several experts testified before a Congress committee in July 2023 that they could pose a threat to national security. A Gallup poll conducted in 2021 found that 41 percent of Americans believe alien spacecraft have visited Earth, up eight points from 33 percent in 2019.

RIA Novosti reported, citing amateur astronomers, that the sighting could have been space debris burning at low speed.

The Telegram channel of the observational astronomy project, AstroAlert, said the burning object was likely a SpaceX Starlink satellite.

"The culprit of today's sky show has been found! This is most likely STARLINK-2653," the channel said, sharing a map purportedly showing its flight path.

"On this map, its final flight path is the lower orbit turning from white to green and then to the red line, going through the center of the Sahara Desert, the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey, the Black Sea, Sochi and further over the northern Caspian Sea."

"15 minutes before combustion (at 17:35 UT or 20:35 Moscow time), the spacecraft flew over the western coast of Africa near a point with coordinates 0ยฐ longitude and 0ยฐ latitude," the channel said.

Russia this week announced that it had kickstarted the first stage of testing tactical nuclear weapons in the region. Personnel of the Southern Military District had started training and completing combat tasks with "special ammunition" for Iskander missile systems, the Russian defense ministry said in a statement.

There is no suggestion that the fireball spotted on Wednesday is linked to the tactical tests.

Newsweek has reached out to Russia's Foreign Ministry for comment via email.

"The personnel of the aviation units of the Russian Aerospace Forces involved in the exercise practice are equipping aviation weapons with special warheads, including the Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, and flying into designated patrol areas," the statement said.