Russia reports drone attack on military base in Crimea region;  Ukraine denies the action

Russia reports drone attack on military base in Crimea region; Ukraine denies the action

Russia said Sunday an explosive drone strike injured six people at its Black Sea Fleet headquarters in annexed Crimea, while authorities in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolayiv said they were facing the worst airstrikes since the war began.

Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvojayev published the following message on his Telegram account: “This morning Ukrainian nationalists decided to spoil the Day of the Russian Fleet”, which is celebrated in Russia. He explained a drone landed in the yard, reporting six injured among staff.

All Russian Fleet Day celebrations “have been canceled for security reasons,” Razvojayev said, urging residents of Sevastopol not to leave their homes “if possible.” However, Ukrainian officials have denied being behind the unprecedented attack, calling the Russian allegations a “deliberate provocation”.

The announcement of an “alleged Ukrainian attack on the headquarters of the Russian fleet in Sevastopol” was “a deliberate provocation,” said Serguii Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odessa regional administration in southern Ukraine, in a video on Telegram. “The liberation of occupied Ukrainian Crimea will be much more efficient,” he added.

Speaking in Saint Petersburg (Northeastern Russia), President Vladimir Putin announced that his Navy would be equipped “in the coming months” with a new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile that “knows no obstacles”.

The Russian fleet “is capable of inflicting a devastating response on all those who decide to attack our sovereignty and freedom,” Putin assured, noting that its military hardware is “continuously being improved.” Delivery of the Zircon missiles “to the Russian armed forces will begin in the next few months,” he said.

In southern Ukraine, authorities in Mykolaiv said Sunday the city had been the target of intense Russian bombing, probably “the heaviest” since the war began, killing at least two people.

According to the city’s mayor, Oleksandre Senkevych, “powerful explosions” were heard twice this morning. The governor of the region, Vitali Kim, reported two deaths, a civilian couple. Further attacks hit the Kharkiv (east) and Sumy (northeast) regions.

On Saturday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged residents of the Donetsk region to leave the region to escape “Russian terror” and bombings in this area in the east of the country, which is largely under Moscow’s control.

“A government decision was made on mandatory evacuation of the Donetsk region,” Zelenskyy said in a video. “The more residents leave the Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will kill,” he added.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk had already announced the forced evacuation of the population of Donetsk, one of the two administrative regions of the Donbass industrial basin where Russia is gaining ground.

She justified the decision with the destruction of the gas network and the lack of heating in the region next winter. According to estimates by the Ukrainian authorities, at least 200,000 civilians still live in areas of the Donetsk region that are not yet under Russian occupation.

On Friday, the bombing of a Russianheld area in the Donetsk region in Olenivka, used as a prison for captured Ukrainian soldiers, left around fifty dead. A “premeditated Russian war crime,” according to Zelenskyy.

Ukraine’s Human Rights Commissioner Dmytro Lubinetsk announced on Saturday that he had asked the Red Cross and the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission, which oversaw the surrender of Azovstal factory defenders in Mariupol (southeast) negotiated with the Russians in May, to go after Olenivka.

After long weeks of siege and resistance at the steelworks, some 2,500 Ukrainian fighters surrendered and Moscow announced they were being arrested at Olenivka.

“When the Azovstal defenders left the factory, the UN and ICRC acted as guarantors of the lives and health of our soldiers,” Zelenskyy said late Friday, urging the UN and Red Cross to “react.”

Russia accused Ukrainian forces, which it denied, saying that Moscow or the separatists were trying to cover up “the torture of prisoners and the executions carried out there”. According to Dmytro Lubinetsk, based on the analysis of Russian images, “the explosion occurred from inside” the prison and not after a bomb attack.