Ukraine hits the Russian fleet base in the Black Sea again | International

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This Friday, Ukraine hit the Russian navy base in Sevastopol, in Crimea, with medium-range missiles. The port of the Black Sea Fleet is located in the center of the city and numerous citizen videos shared on social networks have shown several explosions and columns of smoke rising from the central captaincy building of the Russian fleet and also from the docks of warships.

The occupying authorities have indicated that the bombardment was carried out with missiles and that it only affected the building that serves as the fleet's headquarters. The images that have emerged of the attack against the Sebastopol captaincy confirm that at least one missile hit the façade, although without causing the destruction of the building. The building was already the target of Ukrainian drone bombs in the summer of 2022.

In recent weeks, Ukraine has been using a modification of its Neptun marine anti-ship missile to attack ground targets, especially air defense batteries. The Neptun became famous among the Ukrainian population when one of these missiles sank the Moscowflagship of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea. Russian military accounts claim that the attack on the barracks in Sevastopol was carried out with British-French Storm Shadow missiles.

This bombing in Sevastopol comes after Thursday's attack with a Neptun against the Saki air base, also in Crimea, where 12 combat aircraft were stationed, according to the Ukrainian Security Services (SSU). One of the Russian fleet's ship repair dry docks in Sevastopol was also targeted last week by Ukrainian missiles and nautical drones, damaging a submarine and a landing ship. Another blow against the Russian fleet in Crimea came on Wednesday, when long-range Storm Shadow missiles hit the Verkhnosadove base, an underground, bunkered complex. In addition to the attacks that hit their targets, Ukraine is daily testing, with drones, the Russian anti-aircraft defense network on the Crimean peninsula, considered one of the best in the world.

The Storm Shadow are long-range missiles produced by the United Kingdom and France, and are the first weaponry supplied by NATO allies that the Ukrainian Air Force is using against Russian positions in Crimea. Air Force Commander Mikola Oleshchuk has confirmed that the Storm Shadows have been fired from fighter-bombers.

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Until a few months ago, the NATO member states that support Ukraine established as an essential condition that their weapons not be used against Russian territory, but not against Crimea either. For the Kremlin, Crimea is a red line, an inseparable part of Russian national identity, and attacking it with Western weapons, as the Russian Ministry of Defense has warned, can cause an escalation in the conflict. Russia annexed Crimea by force in 2014 while supporting separatist uprisings in Donbas, eastern Ukraine.

The Storm Shadows were used successfully in the attack on the Sevastopol dry dock last week. Ukraine is also using aerial and sea drones to hit Russian warships. The enemy fleet, based in Crimea, is blocking maritime traffic in the Black Sea and preventing Ukrainian ports from entering the sea. Russia has also conquered the Ukrainian coast of the Azov Sea during the invasion.

The Russian governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, reported this Friday that there has also been an “unprecedented” cyber attack that has interrupted internet service on the peninsula.

The secretary of the Security Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, has assured from the social network X that the attacks “are precision and exclusively against military infrastructure.” Danilov, in his characteristic provocative tone, has written that the Russian Navy has two options in Crimea, either to sink its ships voluntarily in the face of the enemy's proximity, or to wait for its fleet to be "sliced ​​like salami." .

Ukrainian pressure in Crimea coincides with the launch of an alternative route to export Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. Last July, Russia broke the so-called Black Sea Grain Initiative, by which it committed to the United Nations and Turkey to allow gradual traffic of merchant ships with Ukrainian grain towards international markets. Russia broke the agreement, claiming that Western sanctions hindered its exports. But Ukraine has started a new route this week: merchant ships, without leaving Ukrainian waters, sail to ports in neighboring Romania. From there they continue their journey to Turkish waters. Ukraine and shipping companies believe Moscow will not authorize an attack on commercial vessels.

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