An overnight attack destroyed a shipment of Russian cruise missiles on the occupied Crimean peninsula, Kiev’s military service claims.
Footage posted to social media showed a large fireball lighting up the sky over the town of Dzhankoi in what was reportedly an attack by drones on a train carrying Russian Kalibr missiles to Vladimir Putin’s fleet in the Black Sea.
Ukraine’s military intelligence reported what would be the latest in a series of brutal attacks on Russian military assets deep inside Russian-controlled territory, but did not directly claim responsibility.
The Russian-appointed governor of the region reported an incident in the area of the same city in Crimea in the northern part of the peninsula, although he did not mention cruise missiles as a target of attack.
Dzhankoi is a major transport hub in Crimea, with two major railways and European highways passing through the city, and is also home to the Russian Navy’s Dzhankoi Air Base. None of the reports of the attack could be independently verified.
Footage posted to social channels overnight showed a large fireball lighting up the night sky over the city of Dzhankoi in what was reportedly an attack by drones on a train carrying Russian Kalibr missiles to Vladimir Putin’s fleet in the Black Sea.
Ukraine’s military intelligence reported what would be the latest in a series of brutal attacks on Russian military assets deep in Russian-controlled territory. Pictured: A woman walking her dog is seen as smoke rises in the distance in footage supposedly showing the aftermath of Monday night’s attack on a missile shipment in Dzhankoi, Crimea
A vague statement from the Ukrainian military service, posted on its website Monday, said multiple Kalibr cruise missiles were destroyed in an explosion, without explicitly saying Ukraine was responsible or what weapon had been used.
It said the missiles were being transported by rail and destined for submarine launch.
The agency suggested that the Kiev government was responsible, saying the explosion that destroyed the missiles “continues the process of Russia’s demilitarization and prepares Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula for de-occupation.”
“An explosion in the town of Dzhankoi in the north of temporarily occupied Crimea destroyed Russian Kalibr-KN cruise missiles as they were being transported by rail,” it said.
The statement on social media said the missiles, designed to be launched from surface ships in Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, had a range of more than 2,500 kilometers on land and 370 kilometers at sea.
Ihor Ivin, the Russian-installed head of the Dzhankoi government, is said to have said that the city was attacked by drones and a 33-year-old man was injured by shrapnel from a downed drone.
He was taken to hospital and is expected to survive.
TASS quoted Ivin saying on Krym-24 TV that a house, school and grocery store caught fire and the power grid was damaged.
Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to the Russian-installed head of Crimea, said the drone strike targeted civilian targets.
“All drones were aimed at civilian locations. One was hit over Dzhankoi technical school and came down between the instruction area and a student residence,” he said on his Telegram channel.
“There are no military sites nearby. The others were knocked down in residential areas. In addition to explosives, they all carried shrapnel.’
Photos circulating online showed pieces of a destroyed drone – reportedly used in Monday night’s attack – scattered on the ground.
Responding to Kryuchkov’s comments, Reuters news agency said it was unable to independently verify neither the Ukrainian nor Russian reports.
Photos circulating online showed pieces of a destroyed drone – reportedly used in Monday night’s attack – scattered on the ground
Pictured: Park of a drone allegedly used to destroy Russian missiles in Ukraine
A Russian military air base is located near Dzhankoi, and Ukrainian officials have long said the city and surrounding areas have turned into Moscow’s largest military base in Crimea.
In the run-up to last year’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia captured Crimea in 2014 and then annexed the peninsula in a move many countries condemned as illegal.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky has vowed to recapture all Ukrainian land Russia now occupies, including Crimea.
Another possible hint of a Ukrainian attack came from Russia-appointed Crimean governor Sergei Aksenov.
He said on social media that anti-aircraft fire was fired near Dzhankoi, where Ukrainian intelligence said the cruise missiles had been destroyed.
Mr Aksenov said falling debris injured one person and damaged a house and a shop. His report did not state that cruise missiles were hit, did not specify why the anti-aircraft weapons were fired, or whether the injuries and damage were caused by debris from the anti-aircraft weapons or from an object that was shot down.
Unconfirmed social media reports claimed that Russia’s air defenses had shot down drones.
Throughout the current war, reports of attacks on Russian military bases, assassinations and other targets in Crimea have surfaced, with Ukraine rarely if ever explicitly claiming responsibility, but welcoming such incidents.
Last August, missiles destroyed several aircraft at an air base on the southwest coast of the peninsula, and Ukrainian authorities later claimed responsibility for the attack.
And on October 8, an explosion severely damaged part of the Crimean/Kerch Bridge, a massive bridge built by Russia to connect Crimea to the mainland.
Pictured: A Kalibr cruise missile being launched in footage released by Russia in July 2022 during Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine
These incidents in Crimea and in other parts of Russia, far from the front lines of the war, exposed major weaknesses in Russian defenses and showed that Ukraine had previously unknown weapon capabilities. They also embarrassed Vladimir Putin, who reportedly believed the invasion would be quick and easy.
The blasts came after Putin visited Crimea over the weekend, his first visit to the peninsula since sending troops to Ukraine on February 24 last year.
The Kalibr weapons are a family of cruise missiles that can be launched from ships, submarines and airborne and can carry nuclear warheads.
There have been several reports of its use by Russia during its invasion of Ukraine.