Russia reported new Ukrainian drone attacks on Friday, after explosions erupted near military bases in Russian-held areas of Ukraine. This photo taken on August 16, 2022 shows smoke billowing from an ammunition depot in the village of Mayskoye, Crimea.
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Russia reported new Ukrainian drone attacks on Friday evening, a day after explosions erupted near military bases in Russian-held areas of Ukraine and Russia itself, apparent manifestations of the growing capacity of Kyiv to crush Moscow’s assets away from the front lines.
The latest incidents followed huge explosions last week at an airbase in Crimea annexed by Russia. In a new assessment, a Western official said the incident rendered half of Russia’s Black Sea naval aviation force useless in a stroke.
Russian news agencies RIA and Tass, citing a local official in Crimea, said it appeared Russian anti-aircraft forces were in action near the western Crimean port of Eupatoriya on Friday evening. Video posted by a Russian website showed what appeared to be a surface-to-air missile hitting a target. Reuters was unable to immediately confirm the veracity of the video.
Tass quoted a local official as saying that Russian anti-aircraft forces knocked down six Ukrainian drones sent to attack the town of Nova Kakhovka, east of the city of Kherson. Ukraine says taking back Kherson is one of its top priorities.
Separately, an official in Crimea said defenses shot down an unknown number of drones over the city of Sevastopol.
“Ukrainian Armed Forces gave Russians a magical evening,” said Seriy Khlan, a member of the Kherson regional council dissolved by Russian occupation forces.
The previous night, multiple explosions had been reported in Crimea – which Moscow seized in 2014 – notably near Sevastopol, headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, as well as in Kerch near a huge bridge to the Russia.
In Russia, two villages had been evacuated after explosions at an ammunition depot in Belgorod province, more than 100 km (60 miles) from territory controlled by Ukrainian forces.
Kyiv shy about incidents in Crimea
Kyiv has withheld any official comment on the incidents in Crimea or inside Russia while hinting that it is behind them using long-range weapons or sabotage.
A Western official indicated on Friday that at least some of the incidents were Ukrainian attacks, saying Kyiv was constantly producing “kinetic effects” far behind Russian lines.
Huge explosions on August 9 at Russia’s Saky air base on the Crimean coast knocked out more than half of the Black Sea Fleet’s combat jets, the official said, in what would be one of the costliest attacks of the war.
Russia has denied any planes were damaged in what it called a crash, although satellite images showed at least eight burnt-out warplanes and several huge craters.
Moscow sacked the head of the Black Sea Fleet this week.
Ukraine hopes its apparent new ability to hit Russian targets behind the front line can turn the tide of the conflict, disrupting the supply lines Moscow needs to sustain its occupation.
A senior US defense official said on Friday that the US president Joe BidenUkraine’s administration was preparing another security assistance package for Ukraine worth $775 million and containing surveillance drones and, for the first time, mine-resistant vehicles.
Since last month, Ukraine has deployed Western-supplied rockets to strike behind Russian lines. Some reported explosions in Crimea and Belgorod were beyond the reach of munitions that Western countries have acknowledged sending so far.
A senior Ukrainian official said about half of the incidents in Crimea were Ukrainian attacks of some kind and half of the accidents caused by Russia’s poor operations.
He pointed out that the attacks were carried out by saboteurs rather than long-range weapons, although he did not say whether Kyiv now had ATACMS, a longer-range version of the US HIMARS rockets he started. for use in June.
The official, who declined to be named, said Ukraine hoped its strikes would have a greater impact on reducing Russian artillery power, but that Moscow was adapting.
Concern about the nuclear power plant
Ukraine also issued dire warnings about a frontline nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhzhia complex, where it said it believed Moscow was planning a “large-scale provocation” to justify decoupling the plant from the Ukrainian power grid. and connect it to that of Russia.
“If Russian radiation blackmail continues, this summer could go down in the history of various European nations as one of the most tragic ever. Because no nuclear power plant in the world has a procedure for a terrorist state to turn a nuclear power plant into a target, ”said the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said in remarks Friday evening.
Continuing the mutual blame game, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of bombing the complex, risking a nuclear disaster.
Ukraine’s nuclear operator said on Friday it suspected Moscow was planning to switch the Zaporizhzhia power plant to the Russian power grid, a complex operation that Kyiv said could spell disaster.
The power plant is held by Russian troops at the edge of a tank.
Ukrainian forces control the opposite bank.
Moscow has rejected international calls to demilitarize the plant and Putin on Friday renewed his accusation that Kyiv was bombing it during a phone call with the French president Emmanuel Macronaccording to the Kremlin’s reading.
Macron’s office said Putin accepted a mission to Zaporizhzhia from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Thousands have been killed and millions forced to flee since Russia launched its invasion on February 24, saying it was aimed at demilitarizing Ukraine and protecting Russian speakers on what Putin called the land historical Russian.
Ukraine and Western countries see it as a war of conquest aimed at destroying the national identity of Ukraine.