Ukraine dealt a major blow to Russia’s naval power with a devastating strike against the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, with one soldier missing after the attack, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
“With a series of carefully calibrated drone strikes in recent weeks in and around Crimea and deeper into Russia, Ukraine has eroded Putin’s red lines that Russia is off limits to Kiev strikes,” said Rebekah Koffler , president of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting. and former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, told Fox News Digital.
Friday’s attack in Sevastopol was part of a wider offensive against Russian assets in the Crimean peninsula, which remains a disputed territory and a major target for Ukrainian efforts. Reuters reported that a major cyber attack disrupted internet services on the peninsula.
Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that its air defense systems shot down five missiles. Officials also initially reported that one soldier was killed in the attack, but later revised his status to just “missing.”
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Residents of Sevastopol said they heard explosions in the sky and saw smoke, Russian media reported. Images circulated on Ukrainian Telegram channels showed clouds of smoke over the sea.
Mikhail Razvosayev, the Russian-imposed governor of Sevastopol, said the attack caused a massive fire and that residents should avoid the city center while firefighters put out the blaze. Smoke from the fire could be seen from miles away.
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He stressed that no civilian casualties or damage to urban infrastructure have been reported.
The city has brought in more emergency personnel to fight the blaze, which could indicate the blaze remains out of control. A stream of ambulances rushed to fleet headquarters and debris was scattered hundreds of yards, the Tass news agency reported.
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Ukraine has yet to take credit for the attack, but Ukrainian Air Force Commander General Mykola Oleshchuk hinted on Telegram that Kiev “told you there will be more” after today’s strike.
The Ukrainian air force last week struck naval targets and port infrastructure, the BBC reported. Last week’s strike also damaged a Russian submarine and warship.
Koffler argued that the recent strikes, the result of a push to make progress before the weather changes and makes fighting more difficult, have led to the “unthinkable” for Russia – a war on its own front.
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“Zelensky wants to continue, probing the real red lines and Putin’s will for massive retaliation,” he explained. “We are at a very critical moment now in this conflict.”
“It appears that Zelensky has received assurances from the White House that he will indeed maintain a strong level of support for Ukraine’s defense,” he added.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.