Video: Major attack on Crimea: Ukrainian missiles hit Russian naval shipyard -/Reuters
Ukraine's special forces said on Monday that the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet was killed in an attack last week on the naval headquarters in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, while Moscow has yet to comment on Kyiv's statements and has only reported thwarting another drone attack on the peninsula it annexed in 2014 as well as over Russian provinces bordering Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials said four people had been killed in Russian airstrikes in the country in the past 34 hours, causing "significant damage" to infrastructure at the Black Sea port of Odesa and grain storage facilities. Kyiv said it was a "pathetic attempt" by Moscow to retaliate for the attack in Crimea, which for its part did not address Ukrainian claims about civilian casualties.
According to the Ukrainian military, Friday's attack on naval headquarters was aimed at a meeting of the Russian naval leadership in the city of Sevastopol. "After the attack on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 105 officers died, including the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Another 19 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be rehabilitated," the special forces said in a statement on Telegram.
It is unclear how they counted the number of dead and wounded in the attack, while both Ukraine and Russia tend to exaggerate the losses suffered by the other side since the start of the invasion <> months ago, concealing the extent of their deaths.
Russian officials confirmed the Ukrainian attack on Friday, saying at least one missile hit naval headquarters, but did not specify how many casualties there were overall. If indeed the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Viktor Sokolov, was killed in the attack, he would be one of the highest-ranking officers in the Russian army to have fallen in battle in Ukraine.
Russian Black Sea Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Viktor Sokolov salutes during a ceremony in Sevastopol, Crimea, September 27, 2022./Reuters
Kyiv has stepped up attacks in the Black Sea and Crimea, while its forces continue their counteroffensive in Russian-occupied areas in southern and eastern Ukraine, which began about four months ago. Ukraine is advancing very slowly in territory that the Russians have fortified and mined well, but its offensive could gain significant momentum with the arrival of the first shipment of American Abrams tanks.
"Another massive attack on Odessa!" Economy Minister Yulia Sviridenko wrote in X after tonight's attacks. "The attack resulted in the destruction of grain storage facilities and significant damage to the seaport." Oleg Kiefer, the governor of Odesa, said the damaged facilities contained almost a thousand tons of grain. He said the bodies of two men were found under the rubble of a grain warehouse.
The latest attacks on Odesa are part of an air campaign that has made it difficult for Ukraine, one of the world's largest grain producers, to export its products. Moscow started it after leaving the Black Sea grain export agreement, which helped combat a global food crisis.
According to the Ukrainian military, 19 Iranian Shahed drones and 11 cruise missiles were shot down overnight, most of them aimed at the Odesa area. He said the destroyed grain storage facilities were hit by two hypersonic missiles.
Ukraine's energy ministry reported after the attack that more than 73,70 homes were without power in Odesa, a reminder of Russian airstrikes that left millions of Ukrainians without heating and light in the freezing cold last winter.
Officials said a <>-year-old man and a <>-year-old woman were killed in a separate airstrike on the town of Beryslav in southern Kherson Oblast.
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Damage sustained during Russian attack on Odesa, Ukraine, September 25, 2023/Reuters
Kyiv accuses Moscow of trying to prevent it from exporting grain to the world, and traders around the world are closely monitoring attacks in the Black Sea region for fear of further damage to global markets.
Ukraine is sending more and more grain along the Danube, by roads and trains, and has established a "humanitarian corridor" from the Black Sea coast to send grain to markets in Africa and Asia. The first two ships to pass through this corridor left the Black Sea port of Chornomorsk last week and reached their destination ports.
Ukraine relies heavily on Western weapons to defend itself against Russian airstrikes and counteroffensive it launched in June. Today, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the arrival of the first Abrams tanks, which he said were already ready for operation.
"I am grateful to our allies for fulfilling the agreements! We are looking for new contracts and expanding our supply geography," said Zelenskyy, who visited the United States last week.
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