Wed | Dec 6, 2023

A Ukrainian missile strike hit the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, Moscow says

Published:Friday | September 22, 2023 | 8:16 AM
This image taken from UGC video shows smoke rising from the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea, Friday September 22, 2023. Ukraine carried out a fiery missile strike Friday on the main headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and one serviceman was missing, the Russian Defense Ministry said (Crimean Telegram channel via AP)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine struck the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in a missile attack Friday that left a serviceman missing and the main building smouldering, according to officials on both sides of the conflict and images from the scene in annexed Crimea.

The Russian Defense Ministry initially said one servicemember was killed but then issued a subsequent statement saying he was missing following the attack in the port city of in Sevastopol.

The Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 in an act that most of the world considered illegal, has been a frequent target since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine almost 19 months ago.

Previous attacks resulted in several civilian deaths, but Russian officials haven't yet reported any military personnel killed. Six people were reported wounded following a July 2022 attack on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters, but it wasn't clear whether they were civilians or servicemembers.

The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said no one was injured Friday outside of the burning headquarters building, but he didn't provide information on other casualties.

Firefighters battled the blaze, and more emergency forces were being brought in, an indication the fire could be massive.

Ukrainian officials have claimed responsibility for a series of other recent attacks on Crimea but didn't immediately confirm or deny that Kyiv had launched missiles at Sevastopol on Friday.

In an apparent acknowledgement of Ukraine's responsibility for the barrage, the country's air force commander posted a video of air sirens blazing and smoke rising from the building along with a message thanking the pilots.

"We promised that 'there will be more,'" Lieutenant General Mykola Oleschuk said.

Sevastopol residents said they heard explosions and saw smoke, Russian news outlets reported, and images showed grey plumes over the seafront. The Associated Press could not immediately verify the videos.

A stream of ambulances arrived at the fleet's headquarters, and shrapnel was scattered hundreds of meters (yards) around, Russian state news agency Tass reported.

The Defense Ministry said five missiles were shot down by Russian air defence systems responding to the attack on Sevastopol. It was not immediately clear if the headquarters was hit in a direct strike or by debris from an intercepted missile.

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