What we know about Kiev’s strike on a Russian military shipyard
A Ukrainian missile strike on a Russian naval wharf has injured at least 24 people and caused damage to warships. Moscow has pledged to restore the ships, while Kiev has hinted that it used British-made weapons in the attack.
Here is what we know about the incident so far.
Kiev strikes Crimea
The Wednesday morning attack on Crimea involved ten cruise missiles and three naval drones, the Russian Defense Ministry reported. The Russian military managed to intercept the unmanned speedboats and seven of the missiles. Those that reached the Sevastopol Shipyard damaged two ships.
The ministry did not identify the vessels, but said later in the day, after the fire caused by the strike was put out, that both can be restored and put back into service.
Russian media outlets have claimed that the damaged assets were the ‘Rostov-on-Don’ Kilo-class diesel-electric attack submarine and the ‘Minsk’ Ropucha-class landing ship.
The strike injured 24 people, according to Mikhail Razvozhaev, governor of the city of Sevastopol. He described the condition of four of them as serious. The blastwaves also shattered windows in nearby houses and damaged rooftops, the official added.
Unconfirmed media reports claimed that two people may have been killed in the attack. All the victims were reportedly employees of the shipyard, which is a major facility primarily involved in maintaining Russian warships.
It was not immediately clear what weapons Ukraine used to hit the facility. Russian officials did not identify them.
Nikolay Oleshchuk, spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, acknowledged that Kiev was behind the attack. He thanked military pilots for a “wonderful job” and said the Russian forces experienced “a storm.”
The UK has provided dozens of Storm Shadow air-to-surface cruise missiles to Kiev to support it in the armed conflict with Russia.
Sky News cited a Ukrainian and a Western source, neither of them named, as confirming that those weapons were indeed used in the strike.
Kim Jong-un visit
The attack on Wednesday came hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The visiting head of state, who rarely travels abroad, pledged his support for Moscow in its fight against “imperialism.”
The Russian military regularly reports Ukrainian attacks inside Russia, including territories that Kiev recognizes as being under Moscow’s sovereignty.
Last month, The Economist published a detailed account of Kiev’s semi-clandestine drone program and the rationale for launching kamikaze aircraft against targets deep inside Russia, including the capital.
“The headline-making strikes on Moscow are intended to have a psychological impact,” the outlet said. But some operations “appear to be PR projects designed to bring a prototype to the attention of procurement bosses, rather than having military value.”