Ukraine Launches Wave of Drones at Crimea, Russian Official Says
The Kremlin-installed authorities in Crimea said on Sunday that Ukraine had launched a wave of drones on the occupied peninsula overnight, the latest in a string of reported attacks on Russian-held territory ahead of an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Mikhail Razvozhaev, the Russian-appointed governor of the port of Sevastapol, the largest city in Crimea, said that “more than 10” drones were involved in the attack. At least three were destroyed or crashed, he said on the Telegram messaging app, adding that there were no reports of damage.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense said that a total of 22 Ukrainian drones had been detected over the Black Sea overnight. All of the drones were shot down or disabled, it said in a statement. The claims could not be independently verified. And the Ukrainian authorities, as policy, rarely comment on explosions behind enemy lines.
Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, has been a key conduit for supplies and troops supporting Russia’s occupying forces in southern Ukraine. Attacks and explosions there have picked up in recent months, which military analysts say could help set the stage for a long-anticipated counteroffensive that Ukrainian officials have said is in the final stages of preparation.
In just the past two weeks, refineries and military installations on the peninsula have been targeted. The Russian authorities have sought to downplay the attacks, but Ukraine’s military has said that at least one of the attacks was in preparation for its counteroffensive.
After a winter where both sides gained little ground in fighting focused in eastern Ukraine, each is preparing for the next phase of the war. Ukraine is being powered by fresh supplies of advanced Western military equipment, including tanks and armored personnel carriers that have already arrived in the country. And Russian forces have dug new defensive positions and are repositioning troops to prepare for the anticipated counteroffensive.
Here’s what else is happening in Ukraine:
A deadly attack in Kherson
Six Ukrainian mine disposal experts were killed when they came under fire from Russian forces while they were working in southern Ukraine’s Kherson region, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said on Saturday.
Ukrainian demining experts have regularly been killed and wounded while attempting to clear mines, often laid by retreating Russian forces, but it is unusual for them to be targeted by enemy fire. It was not clear where in the region the incident took place. The report could not be independently verified.
“The State Emergency Service lost a part of its family,” said its chief, Serhiy Kruk, in a post on Facebook, which said that a paramedic and another person had also been injured in the attack. Experts had removed 7,300 mines in the week to Saturday, the service said in a post on the Telegram social messaging app.
The Ukrainian authorities have placed Kherson’s regional capital city under a weekend curfew because of unspecified threats posed by Russian forces and to facilitate the unimpeded work of Ukrainian law enforcement and military.
Russia claims it thwarted an attack on a regional airfield
Russia’s Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., has accused Ukrainian intelligence of planning a drone attack on an airfield in the eastern Ivanovo region of the country, state media reported on Sunday.
The Russian state news agency Tass cited a statement from the F.S.B. saying that the agency had “thwarted an attempt to carry out an act of sabotage” using drones filled with explosives. The agency, whose Soviet predecessor was the K.G.B., said the attack was “masterminded” by Ukrainian intelligence, according to Tass.
Ukrainian authorities did not immediately comment on the claims, which could not be independently verified. The F.S.B. has long been suspected of blaming others for crimes it commits itself. The allegations come days after explosions over the Kremlin, which Moscow claimed were a drone attack aimed at assassinating President Vladimir V. Putin, without providing evidence. Ukraine has strenuously denied involvement.