kyiv claimed Friday a "successful strike" on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, in annexed Crimea, which left at least one person missing, at the time when Ukraine is striving to bring the fight to this strategic peninsula.
This Ukrainian region annexed by Moscow in 2014 and the city of Sevastopol, where the targeted naval headquarters is located, are at the heart of the Russian military system for its invasion of Ukraine, both for to supply troops occupying southern Ukraine and to carry out missile strikes from the sea.
“The enemy carried out a missile attack on the fleet headquarters,” Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvojaev wrote on Telegram.
The Russian Defense Ministry, which initially time announced the death of a soldier, then clarified that he was missing.
The headquarters of the Russian fleet in Sevastopol struck by Ukraine © AFP – Sylvie HUSSON, Laurence SAUBADU
The Ukrainian army welcomed this “successful strike against the headquarters of the command of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the temporarily occupied city of Sevastopol.”
The exact extent of the damage is not yet known, but Russian authorities admitted that the building was “damaged “.
Governor Razvojaïev affirmed at the beginning of the afternoon that it was in flames and that the “fight against the fire” was continuing.
The shock wave also broke the windows of ten residential buildings in the city center, but “no one was injured”, he added later.
Around the headquarters, debris was visible for several hundred meters and numerous ambulances were present, according to the Russian agency TASS.
Five missiles were also shot down over Crimea, according to the Russian army.
– Disrupt logistics –
Oleg Krioutchkov, an advisor to the leader installed by Russia on the peninsula, also announced a few hours after the strike that Crimea was hit by an “unprecedented” cyberattack against suppliers access to the internet, which caused outages.
But he did not indicate whether this computer attack was directly linked to the strikes.
Ukraine has increased drone and missile strikes in Crimea in recent weeks, claiming the destruction in particular of anti-aircraft defense systems, a shipyard and two ships located there.
A Russian warship in front of the port of Sevastopol, February 12, 2022 in Crimea © Russian Defense Ministry – Handout
The Ukrainian armed forces want to both disrupt the Russian supply chain and end Russia's military control over the Black Sea.
These successes demonstrate the difficulties of Russian anti-aircraft defense, while Ukraine, in the midst of a counter-offensive to liberate its territories, is trying to disorganize the Russian defense by attacking its supply lines and command centers far behind the front line.
Cruise missiles shot down over Crimea © AFP – Nalini LEPETIT-CHELLA, Paz PIZARRO, Valentin RAKOVSKY
Earlier Friday, Russian authorities announced without explanation that the entire transport maritime passenger was suspended sine die, until further notice, from Sevastopol.
The Russian Defense Ministry then assured that it had foiled a Ukrainian attack by destroying a guided missile and two drones targeting Crimea.
The headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet had already been the target of a drone attack in August 2022, which left six people injured.
– Pressure on the eastern front –
Russian occupation authorities in Donetsk also said Friday that Ukraine had carried out multiple assaults in the region the day before, increasing pressure on the eastern front.
A soldier in amid the rubble after a strike on an industrial zone in Kiev, September 21, 2023 in Ukraine © AFP – Sergei SUPINSKY
The head of the Russian occupation of the Donetsk region, Denis Pushilin, estimated that the situation in Bakhmut, a town devastated by a year of fighting and the target of a Ukrainian counter-offensive, remained “hot”, the area being subjugated to “chaotic bombings”.
The Ukrainian army has recaptured two localities in recent days — Andriïvka and Klichtchiïvka — and even says it has “pierced” the Russian defense line in this sector.
In the rest of Ukraine, a rocket attack on the town of Kremenchuk, in the center of the country, left one dead and fifteen injured, including a child, the region's governor announced on Telegram.
“The enemy fired rockets at Kremenchuk. One rocket was shot down by the air defense forces. Unfortunately, civilian infrastructure was hit,” said Dmytro Lunin, governor of the Poltava region.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continued his North American tour in Canada on Friday. He met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau there and asked this country, which has a large Ukrainian diaspora, to remain alongside Ukraine “until (its) victory”.
Mr. Trudeau announced, on this occasion, a new package of aid to Ukraine amounting to 650 million Canadian dollars (452 million euros).
These aid measures, on three years, will include the delivery to Kiev of some 50 armored vehicles and the training of Ukrainian pilots in F-16 combat aircraft.
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