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Ukraine targeted a Russian navy yard in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, striking at least two warships undergoing repairs in dry docks, said Russian authorities and Moscow-imposed officials in the occupied Black Sea peninsula.
Footage posted on social media by authorities and bystanders in Sevastopol captured missile strikes and fiery explosions at Sevmorzavod, Russia’s main Black Sea fleet shipbuilding and maintenance plant, early on Wednesday. Russia’s defence ministry claimed 10 missiles were fired at the ship repair facility, with seven missiles downed by air defences and three hitting their targets.
“As a result of being hit by enemy cruise missiles, two ships under repair were damaged,” the ministry said. It also claimed three naval drones targeting Black Sea fleet vessels were destroyed by counterstrikes launched from a Russian warship.
Independent open-source intelligence analysts published satellite images showing that a submarine and landing ship were in the Sevmorzavod dry docks at the time of the attack. The Financial Times could not independently verify the vessels’ presence at the facility.
Mikhail Razvozhaev, Sevastopol’s Moscow-appointed governor, posted a photo on Telegram showing fire and smoke at the scene. He said 24 people were injured in the attack. “All operational services are working on the spot, there is no danger to civilian objects in the city,” Razvozhaev said.
Kyiv rarely claims responsibility for strikes within occupied Crimea and Russia but Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, said on social media after the attack that the country’s “defence forces always achieve important successes”.
“I want to thank the pilots of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for their excellent combat work,” Ukraine’s air force commander Mykola Oleschuk said on Telegram, suggesting his pilots were involved in the attack.
Russia’s Black Sea fleet has launched dozens of missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian military, commercial and civilian infrastructure since President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022.
Kyiv has occasionally targeted the naval fleet in a bid to reduce Russia’s ability to strike Ukrainian territory from the sea. In April last year the missile cruiser Moskva sank off the coast of Odesa after two Neptune anti-ship missiles struck the fleet’s flagship vessel.
Ukrainian forces have in recent months struck deeper and deeper into Russian-controlled territory and Russia itself, using western-supplied missiles and its own domestically produced weapons.
British Storm Shadow and French Scalp cruise missiles have been used to hit Russian logistical hubs, weapons depots and command and control centres in occupied southern regions. Long- and medium-range drones have become almost a regular sight over Russian skies, with dozens reaching the capital Moscow. Ukrainian drones have also targeted ships and ports on the Black Sea and a bridge spanning the Kerch Strait that connects the illegally occupied peninsula to the Russian mainland.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk angered Kyiv last week when it was revealed that he intervened last September to cut Ukrainian military access for Starlink satellite internet systems during a marine drone attack on warships in Crimea, leading to the mission’s failure.
Ukraine has said the strikes targeting military infrastructure degrade Russian forces’ morale and boost its own troops as they conduct a multipronged counteroffensive along the 1,000km-long frontline in its southern and eastern regions.
“It has a sobering effect . . . we see some slight moves — panic moves — for example, Russian insurance companies providing insurance against civilian attacks,” Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov, chief of Ukraine’s military intelligence, told the Yalta European Strategy conference in Kyiv on Saturday regarding his country’s attacks inside Russia.
Civil aviation had been disrupted too, he said. “As a result, much more money is being traded between insurance companies and airlines. These problems will mount up and affect people — we hope there will be kitchen conversations about that.”
Additional reporting by Roman Olearchyk