Ukrainian drone strike biggest since February – Observer

The pro-Russian governor of the Crimean city of Sevastopol points out that the drone strike that hit the Russian Black Sea fleet in Crimea this morning was the largest since the conflict began in Ukraine.

“Early this morning, the largest attack in the history of Sevastopol Bay by drones and remotely operated surface vehicles took place,” Mikhail Rasvozhayev was quoted as saying by Russian state news agency TASS.

Crimea, annexed by Russia in March 2014 after an intervention by its special forces and a referendum condemned by Kiev and the West, serves as the headquarters of this fleet and a logistical back-base for Russian offensives in Ukraine.

Some military and civilian installations have already been targeted several times in recent months.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry accused Ukraine and the United Kingdom of a “serious attack” by drones, which, however, caused “minor damage” to a ship, an Ivan Golubets mine, as well as a dam in Sevastopol Bay.

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“Preparation for this terrorist act and training of the army of the 73rd Ukrainian center for special maritime operations was carried out by British specialists in Ochakov, Mykolaiv region of Ukraine,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said on the social network. Telegram..

According to Moscow, the attack was aimed at targeting “nine unmanned aerial vehicles and seven autonomous maritime drones” and ships participating in the protection of cargo ships responsible for the export of Ukrainian grain.

Earlier, Rasvozhayev said that the Russian Navy had repelled a drone attack against the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol Bay, that no buildings were hit and that the situation was under control.

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Russia launched a military offensive against Ukraine on February 24 and annexed the Crimean (southern) Ukrainian peninsula in 2014.

The Ukrainian attacks on Sevastopol come as Kiev troops launch a counteroffensive to regain ground in southern Ukraine.

Attacks on Crimea have escalated in recent weeks as Ukrainian forces advance on the southern front towards the city of Kherson, which has been turned into a fortress by the Russians in anticipation of an imminent attack.

On Thursday, Rasvozhayev announced that the Balaklava power station had been targeted by a drone strike, although he stressed that it had not caused major damage or casualties.

An airfield and military base in Crimea were bombed in August, and Ukraine eventually claimed responsibility for the attacks, but not until several weeks later.

In early October, the Crimea Bridge, the peninsula’s main infrastructure link to Russia, inaugurated by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018, was damaged by a truck bomb.

On the ground, the Ukrainian military reported fighting in eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, including near Baghmoud, the only area where Russian troops have advanced in recent weeks and shelling of several areas.

In August, Crimea’s pro-Russian governor reported another attack, the second in less than a month, by drones on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, causing no injuries.

On July 31, a drone crashed into the yard of the Navy’s headquarters, injuring five employees, leading to the cancellation of all ceremonies planned for Russian Navy Day.

Ukraine, which has accused Russia of being behind the attack, has denied any involvement, calling the allegations “provocative”.

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However, pro-Russian separatists fighting on Moscow’s side announced a new prisoner exchange with Kiev involving 50 on each side.

In the south, AFP journalists witnessed artillery fire in the village of Kopchartsy, the last town on the Ukrainian side before contact with the Russians.

“Everything can go wrong there, but we know that they suffer more on their side than on us,” assured Ukrainian soldier Oleksiy, in his 20s, AFP quoted.

Both sides in the region are gearing up for a battle for the regional capital city of Kherson, where Russian occupation authorities have evacuated tens of thousands of civilians in what Ukraine has described as “deportations”.

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