Ukrainian forces followed up their attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in occupied Crimea with a second attack in as many days in the region as Kyiv seeks to frustrate Russia’s forces ahead of the coming winter.
Video captured the aftermath of Friday’s devastating strike, showing vast columns of black smoke rising from the Black Sea Fleet HQ. According to Reuters, Ukraine took credit for the attack on Saturday ahead of a second strike that Russian officials have also attributed to Ukrainian forces.
Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Russian-appointed governor of Sevastopol, claimed that the city activated its air defenses on Saturday to combat an incoming rocket attack. No Ukrainian official has yet taken credit for the second attack.
Razvozhayev said that debris from a rocket fell into the nearby Sukharnaya Bay, disrupting passenger ship traffic for the day, but emergency services have left the scene, according to Russian news agency TASS. He did not reveal whether the rocket attack succeeded in damaging any infrastructure or vital targets – far fewer details than were provided following Friday’s attack, which resulted in one missing service member but no casualties after Russian defenses claimed to have shot down five missiles.
The debris fell near the pier in Sukharnaya Bay, which is where Russia stores a number of its military vessels and submarines, The New York Times reported.
Earlier on Saturday, the city had advised drivers and public transit to stay clear of the city center and seek shelter amid air raid alerts, but Razvozhayev ended the missile warning by the early afternoon.
Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive, launched earlier this year after the winter thaw, has made slow progress and led to criticism from some in the West.
Despite those concerns, the U.S. this week pledged further aid for Ukraine as a show of total commitment to the country’s defense and efforts to maintain its sovereignty.
Ukraine therefore has made a renewed and more desperate push to try and hit at Russia’s supply lines and support structure in order to blunt offensive efforts as the winter weather sets in, at which point officials from both sides anticipate a slowdown in fighting.
The first winter in the war saw a drop in the overall fighting and more focused efforts, particularly around the city of Bakhmut, which has changed hands between the two sides at least twice so far. This week saw attacks on the outskirts of Bakhmut, which has limited strategic value but immense symbolic value for whomever can hold it.
The Ukrainian air force last week hit naval targets and port infrastructure, the BBC reported. Last week’s strike also damaged a Russian submarine and warship.
“With a series of carefully calibrated drone attacks over the past several weeks on and around Crimea and deeper into Russia, Ukraine has eroded Putin’s red lines of Russia-proper being off limits for Kyiv’s strikes,” Rebekah Koffler, president of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting and a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, told Fox News Digital.
“Zelenskyy wants to keep going, probing Putin’s real red lines,” she explained. “We are at a very crucial time now in this conflict.”
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