On Friday, Moscow accused Ukraine of attacking Crimea with dozens of drones. The allegations come as there have been reports that the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet base was rocked by explosions – and what may have been the largest drone attack on the base to date.
The UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported, “Plumes of smoke were spotted rising above a military training base in Perevalne, near the city of Simferopol, where Russia’s 126th Coastal Defence Brigade of the Black Sea Fleet was stationed.”
Russian and Ukrainian sources had suggested that the drones successfully slipped through Kremlin defenses – although the official commentary from Moscow was that it had succeeded in stopping an attack, and claimed to have down 42 drones near the peninsula that Russia illegally annexed in 2014.
Pro-Kremlin bloggers have been quick to label the strike a terrorist attack, and have downplayed its significance. However, Ivan Federov, the Ukrainian mayor of the Russian-controlled city of Melitopol, claimed on social media that some 300 Russian troops were sent to hospital with a variety of injuries.
Attack of the Drones – A Never-Ending Saga in Ukraine
Ukrainian forces have significantly increased attacks on Russian targets in Crimea, the UK newspaper added. That has included strikes at the Kremlin’s logistics and efforts to resupply its forces on the occupied peninsula as well as in southern Ukraine. Friday marked the third straight day of assaults in the region, and it followed a Ukrainian commando raid that damaged a Russian Air Force radar base on the coast.
Special Forces operatives landed in small boats near the resort village of Mayak on the west coast, knocked out several radar systems, and then killed or wounded nearly three dozen Russian troops before escaping back to Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Kyiv also announced it had destroyed one of Moscow’s S-400 missile batteries – purported to be the Russian military’s most sophisticated air defense system – during a drone strike on the occupied peninsula.
Earlier this month, a Russian warship was seriously damaged in an overnight Ukrainian naval drone attack on Russia’s Black Sea navy base at Novorossiysk. It marked the first time the Ukrainian navy has projected its power so far from the country’s shores.
Ukraine’s drones have already proven to be serious game changers, and each unmanned vehicle can be tailored to a specific mission.
Sea and Air Drones
It is unclear what type of drones were used in Friday’s attack, but Ukraine has stepped up its assaults on Crimea in recent months, employing both aerial and sea-skimming drones.
Earlier this month, Kyiv unveiled footage of its experimental “Sea Baby” waterborne drones.
It is the platform that the Ukrainian military employed to attack the Kerch Bridge – which links mainland Russia to Crimea – in mid-July. CNN was provided footage of the most recent attack on the bridge and it is the first time that Kyiv took direct responsibility for targeting the vital Russian transportation link.
The strike on July 17 caused damage to the road lanes of the bridge, and, according to Russian officials, killed two civilians. It was the second attack on the vital crossing and highlighted the difficulties Moscow faces in defending the only independent Russian link to the peninsula.
The drone strike in Crimea comes as the Ukrainian Army and Air Assault forces liberated Robotyne. Ukraine’s long-anticipated offensive has so far been slow going, but progress is now being made, and the recent raid and drone attacks could further cause disruption behind the lines.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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