Ukraine launches new strike against headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet | Ukraine

Ukraine has launched a fresh attack on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, where officials in the annexed Crimea peninsula said at least one drone had been shot down by anti-aircraft guns.

The reported attack on Saturday morning – a day after explosions erupted near military bases in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine and Russia itself – came elsewhere amid cautious optimism as two more grain ships left a Ukrainian port.

Deliveries from the port of Chornomorsk brought the total scheduled to leave Ukraine’s Black Sea under a United Nations-brokered deal to 27.

While there was no apparent major damage after the reported attack by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on Sevastopol, which has not been independently verified by the Guardian, observers showed Ukraine’s ability to strike prestige targets deep behind Russian lines.

Video shared on Twitter appeared to show Russian air defenses attempting to attack the UAV and plumes of dark smoke billowing from the city.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, governor of Sevastopol, wrote on Telegram that a drone hit the roof of the headquarters on Saturday and said there were no injuries, Russia’s Tass news agency reports.

“I am at [Black Sea] Fleet Headquarters now. A drone hit the roof here 25 minutes ago. Unfortunately it was not shot down… There are no casualties,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s defense ministry said on Saturday that its forces had killed a total of 44,900 Russian personnel — an increase of 200 from the previous day.

Archie Bland and Nimo Omer take you through the top stories and what they mean for free every weekday morning

Data protection: Newsletters may contain information about charities, online advertisements and content sponsored by third parties. You can find more information in our data protection declaration. We use Google reCaptcha to protect our website and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

On Friday, the US first announced it would provide Ukraine with ScanEagle surveillance drones, mine-resistant vehicles, anti-tank missiles and howitzer weapons in a new £655 million aid package to support its efforts to retake Ukrainian territory.

“These capabilities are carefully calibrated to make the greatest possible difference on the battlefield and strengthen Ukraine’s position at the negotiating table,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s President, responding to the announcement said it was “another important step in defeating the attacker”.

Wednesday marks six months of war in the region since Russia invaded Ukraine.

While Russia has made gains in the east, it has been placed on the defensive in other regions as Ukraine escalates its attacks on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Russia captured in 2014.

Last week, a total of nine Russian warplanes were reportedly destroyed at an airbase in Crimea.

Russian leaders have warned that such strikes indicate an escalation in the conflict, fueled by US and NATO allies.

The UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) said in its latest intelligence update on the conflict last week that it saw “minimal changes in territorial control along the frontline”.

In the Donbass, it was said that Russian troops had approached the outskirts of Bakhmut, but had not entered the city. In the southwest, it reported that neither Ukrainian nor Russian forces had made any progress on the front lines in occupied Kherson, but added: “Increasingly frequent explosions behind Russian lines are likely to strain Russian logistics and air bases in the south.”

While predicting that significant changes were unlikely over the next week, the Department of Defense said, “In the coming months, initiative will go to whichever party can generate a credible, committed force for offensive operations.”