By Olga Voitovych, Jessie Gretener, Tim Lister and Anna Chernova, CNN
(CNN) — Ukraine launched a missile attack on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on Friday, the latest and perhaps one of the most ambitious of Kyiv’s recent strikes on Russian military targets in Crimea.
“The enemy launched a missile attack on the headquarters of the fleet,” Sevastopol’s Russian-appointed governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said on Telegram.
Over the past month, Ukraine has stepped up attacks on Russian military bases and other installations, including air defenses, in Crimea.
Sevastopol, home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters, is one of the largest cities on the Crimean peninsula and was illegally annexed by Moscow’s forces in 2014.
Russian’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) said a Russian soldier was missing after the missile attack. The ministry had previously put out a statement that the soldier was killed as a result of the attack. They clarified in an updated statement that the soldier is missing, not killed.
“This afternoon the Kyiv regime launched a missile strike on the city of Sevastopol,” the MOD posted on Telegram.
“While repelling a missile attack, five missiles were shot down by air defense systems. As a result of the attack, the historical headquarters building of the Black Sea Fleet was damaged. According to available information, one soldier was killed,” the MOD stated.
Russian state media TASS reported that debris was “scattered for hundreds of meters” following the missile strike. TASS added that a large number of ambulances were on their way to the scene of the attack.
Razvozhayev also said a piece of shrapnel fell near the Lunacharsky Theater.
The Russian-appointed governor said operational services went to the scene of the attack and that information about any casualties is being clarified.
In an update later Friday, Razvozhayev said there was no more “missile and aviation danger” following the incident and said nobody was injured.
The attack shattered windows in 10 residential buildings in the city, according to Razvozhayev. He added that gas and electricity supplies have been switched off, with water supplies also reduced, due to fires in the area.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Strategic Communications Department confirmed on Friday that the country “inflicted a successful hit” on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol around noon local time.
A Ukrainian military spokesperson commented on the situation in the Black Sea, saying it remains “tense” and that Ukraine still has “a long way to go” to “destroy all the enemy’s capabilities” in Crimea.
Russia is “realizing that it is no longer safe for them in the Black Sea and in their bases,” said Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for the Security and Defense Forces of the South of Ukraine. In a video address, Humeniuk also said that “explosion season” will continue.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksii Danilov warned that the Russian Black Sea Fleet could be “sliced up like a salami” in potential future strikes on Russia’s military infrastructure.
Over the past month, Ukraine has stepped up attacks on Russian military bases and other installations, including air defenses, in Crimea. The latest attack came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continued his North American tour; later Friday he was due to address Canada’s parliament.
On Wednesday, Ukraine Defense Intelligence spokesman, Andrii Yusov, told Ukrainian television that “Crimea is still being used as a logistics hub for, among other things, the transfer of enemy forces and means to other parts of the front,” and stated that “in order to destroy this logistics hub, certain operations are being used and implemented: at sea, on land, and in the air.”
Friday’s attack shows the vulnerability of critically important infrastructure on the peninsula. In short order, the Ukrainians have hit a Russian military airfield at Saki, degraded Russian air defenses on the north-west coast (including taking out an S-400 complex), and carried out a missile attack on the main dry-dock and ship-repair facility in Sevastopol, crippling an attack submarine and a landing ship.
The attack on Saki Thursday caused unspecified but “serious damage” at the airfield, according to SBU sources.
There are plenty of reasons for Ukraine to target Crimea. It’s politically a sign that despite the slow progress on the front lines Ukraine can still inflict serious damage on the Russian military. Targets such as the Crimea bridge have considerable symbolic value as well as strategic purpose.
It’s also part of a broader effort – in Crimea, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk – to hit Russian logistics, fuel, maintenance and command centers – to disrupt their ability to supply the front lines.
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