Russia repels Ukrainian drones in Crimea as war broadens

Russian authorities say local air defences shot down a drone above the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol

Drones also attacked Russia's Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol in July. AFP
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Russian authorities reported shooting down Ukrainian drones on Saturday in Crimea, while Ukrainian officials said Russian forces pressed ahead with efforts to seize one of the few cities in eastern Ukraine not already under their control. The Russian military also kept up its strikes in Ukraine’s north and south.

In Crimea, Russian authorities said local air defences shot down a drone above the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. It was the second drone incident at the headquarters in three weeks and followed explosions at a Russian airfield and ammunition depot on the peninsula this month.

Oleg Kryuchkov, an aide to Crimea’s governor, also said on Saturday that “attacks by small drones” triggered air-defence systems in western Crimea.

The incidents underlined Russian forces’ vulnerability in Crimea. A drone attack on Russia’s Black Sea naval headquarters on July 31 injured five people and forced the cancellation of observances of Russia’s Navy Day. This week, a Russian ammunition depot in Crimea was hit by an explosion. Last week, nine Russian warplanes were reported destroyed at an airbase on Crimea.

Ukrainian authorities have stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility. But President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alluded to Ukrainian attacks behind enemy lines after the blasts in Crimea.

“We must all be strong enough to resist any enemy provocations, as long as it is necessary to make the occupiers answer for all their strikes, for their terror, for Kharkiv, Donba, Azovstal, Mykolaiv, for the filtration camps, for Bucha, Irpin, for all cities," he said.

"We all must be strong enough to stand and go all the way to Ukrainian victory, so we stick together, help each other, restore what was destroyed, fight for all our people, and support those who represent Ukraine.”

Ukraine seeks to reclaim territory

Meanwhile, fighting in southern Ukrainian areas just north of Crimea has stepped up in recent weeks as Ukrainian forces try to drive Russian forces out of cities they have occupied since early in the six-month-old war.

A Russian missile attack wounded 12 people, including three children, and damaged houses and an apartment block on Saturday in the town of Voznesensk in the Mykolaiv region, the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office said. Two of the children were in serious condition and the governor said one had lost an eye.

A Ukrainian airstrike, meanwhile, hit targets in Melitopol, the largest Russian-controlled city in the Zaporizhzhia region, 100 kilometres north of Crimea, according to Ukrainian and Russia-installed local officials.

Russian soldiers in Melitopol last month, a city which Ukraine has stepped up efforts to reclaim. AP

The Ukrainian military on Saturday said it had destroyed a prized Russian radar system and other equipment stationed in occupied areas in the southern Zaporizhzhia region. It was not clear if this was the strike on Melitopol.

“Tonight, there were powerful explosions in Melitopol, which the whole city heard,” the Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Ferodov, said. “According to preliminary data, (it was) a precise hit on one of the Russian military bases, which the Russian fascists are trying to restore for the umpteenth time in the airfield area.”

In the east, Ukraine’s military General Staff said on Saturday that intensified combat took place around Bakhmut, a small city whose capture would enable Russia to threaten the two largest remaining Ukrainian-held cities in the eastern Donbas region.

Updated: August 21, 2022, 4:52 AM