Ukraine fired missiles and drones at the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula, Russian and Ukrainian officials said on Thursday, as Moscow’s forces attacked regions across Ukraine.
Ukraine’s military command said its forces had attacked a Russian air base near the city of Saki, on Crimea’s western coast, but did not give details of any casualties or damage. Earlier on Thursday, Russia’s defense ministry said it had destroyed 19 Ukrainian drones over Crimea and the surrounding Black Sea, thwarting an attack.
The Ukrainian and Russian claims could not be independently verified.
Ukraine’s military has intensified its attacks on Crimea in recent weeks and has long maintained that taking aim at Russian assets and operations on the peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, is critical to its war effort. The peninsula is a hub for the Russian military, which keeps troops, fuel, ammunition and other supplies there to funnel to its forces on the front lines in southern Ukraine.Last week, a Ukrainian attack targeted the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, damaging two ships and starting a fire at a sprawling naval shipyard that is seen as important to the Russian war effort. And on Wednesday, Ukraine’s military said its missiles took out a command post for the Black Sea Fleet in the village of Verkhnesadovoye, near its headquarters in the nearby port city of Sevastopol. The claims could not be independently verified.
Rybar, an influential Russian military blogger, said Thursday that drones launched from southern Ukraine had targeted five Russian military outposts on Crimea’s western coast, but had caused no damage.
Still, unverified videos posted on social networks by Crimean-based channels reported explosions in the area of the Saki Air Base. In one such video, the buzzing of a drone can be heard followed by the sound of a loud explosion.
The Saki base came under Ukrainian attack last year. Satellite photos taken after a series of explosions there appeared to show at least eight wrecked warplanes.
“We ask all Crimeans to remain calm,” Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to the Moscow-appointed governor of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, said on Telegram. He added in another message that a cyberattack had targeted government websites and media in Crimea. The claim of a cyberattack could not be independently verified.Explosions later heard in Sevastopol on Thursday night were not from another Ukrainian attack, but from Russia firing an Onyx P-800 supersonic missile over the Black Sea toward the Odesa region, Rybar said.
The head of Odesa’s military administration, Oleg Kiper, confirmed a Russian attack in the Bilhorod-Dniestrovsky district, saying there were no civilian casualties but “rockets” hit “recreational infrastructure.”
Anushka Patil contributed reporting.