Drone Strikes Headquarters Of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet In Ukraine’s Occupied Crimea Region

By RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service

The headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine’s occupied Crimea region was hit by a drone attack early on August 20, a Russia-installed administrator reported.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-installed administrator of the port city of Sevastopol, posted on Telegram that the drone crashed into the roof of the building and that there were no casualties.

A video showing a plume of smoke rising over the building was posted on social media.

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The same day, occupation official Oleg Kryuchkov posted on Telegram that “attacks by small drones continue” in various locations around Crimea and urged civilians to “remain calm.”

“The goal is not military but psychological,” he wrote. “The explosives are minimal and not capable of inflicting significant harm.”

Local media reported anti-aircraft activity near the western Crimean town of Yevpatoria; the southern town of Bakhchysaray; and the Crimean capital, Simferopol, on August 20.

The incidents came just one day after Moscow confirmed that Vice Admiral Viktor Sokolov had taken over as commander of the fleet in the wake of a spate of setbacks.

It was also the second time the fleet’s headquarters had been attacked by a drone. In late July, Sevastopol canceled its celebrations to mark Russia’s Navy Day holiday after a bomb dropped by a drone injured six people.

In April, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the missile cruiser Moskva, sank near Crimea. Russia claimed a munitions explosion caused the damage that sank the ship, while Ukraine claimed it had sunk the vessel with a missile strike.

On August 9, a Russian military air base in Crimea was rocked by several explosions that destroyed at least nine military aircraft. Germany’s dpa news agency on August 19 quoted Western military officials as saying the attack on the Saky air base had put more than half of the Black Sea Fleet’s aircraft out of commission and forced the fleet into a defensive posture.

On August 19, Russian air defenses were activated in the eastern city of Kerch, which is the terminus of the Crimea Bridge (also called the Kerch Strait Bridge), a high-profile, $4 billion project to link the occupied Ukrainian region with the Russian mainland. No damage to the bridge or the city was reported in the incident.

Ukrainian officials have avoided publicly claiming responsibility for the explosions, but an unnamed senior Ukrainian official was quoted in The New York Times as saying an elite Ukrainian military unit operating behind enemy lines was carrying out at least some of the attacks.

With additional reporting by RFE/RL’s Russian Service