No further details about the strike were revealed, and it was not immediately clear what type of missiles were used, but the commander of the Ukrainian Air Force issued a statement that appeared to mock Russia’s claims that all missiles fired at the Sevastopol headquarters were empty. It was shot down by air defenses. The statement also referred to another strike earlier this week on a Russian base in the occupied city of Melitopol.
“We promised there would be more,” Air Force Commander Mykola Olchuk said on social media. “So, while the occupiers in Melitopol are recovering, and weather alarms are still blaring in Sevastopol, I thank the Air Force pilots once again!”
“All missiles intercepted!” Olshock continued with obvious sarcasm. I hope that the Russian air defense will not let us down again next time. Sevastopol is the city of the Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Together – towards victory!
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said on Twitter that Russian forces should destroy their ships before Ukrainian forces arrive.
“Otherwise, the Russian Black Sea Fleet will be divided like salami,” Danilov wrote. “The operation is painful, but the Ukrainian Armed Forces carry out precision strikes targeting exclusively military infrastructure.”
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While the Ukrainian allegations cannot be independently confirmed, video posted on social media on Friday, verified by Storyful and confirmed by The Washington Post, showed smoke billowing from the Black Sea Fleet headquarters building. There was no confirmed information about casualties.
However, the damage to the building indicates a notable failure of Russian air defenses. Russia has maintained its Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol since the collapse of the Soviet Union under a lease agreement. Russian military personnel stationed there are believed to have participated in the 2014 invasion of Crimea, which was carried out by soldiers wearing uniforms without insignia using Russian military vehicles without license plates.
The fleet and its headquarters are prominent targets for Ukraine, which has vowed to expel Russian occupiers from all of its territory – including Crimea and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that have been under Russian control since 2014.
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The attack on Sevastopol follows a number of attacks in Crimea and specifically on the Black Sea Fleet in recent weeks, including an apparent missile attack on a submarine and a landing ship in Sevastopol earlier this month. Another attack reportedly destroyed a Russian air defense system.
Mikhail Razvozaev, the Kremlin-appointed governor of Crimea, confirmed on social media that a missile had struck the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet. He said that firefighters were trying to put out a fire in the building, and the shock wave resulting from the explosion “broke the windows of 10 residential buildings in the city center.”
Russian news channels reported that six people were injured, but there was no official confirmation of this number. The Russian Defense Ministry initially said one person was killed, but later changed that to “missing.”
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Pictures posted on social media showed the building with a large hole in its upper floors and smoke billowing over downtown Sevastopol. Russian authorities said on Friday that they had also intercepted five missiles.
On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continued a whirlwind trip to North America, visiting Canada, where he planned to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa and planned to address Parliament. Zelensky will also travel to Toronto to meet with business leaders.
The visit follows his speeches at the high-level debate at the UN General Assembly and at the Security Council in New York earlier in the week, followed by meetings in Washington at the White House with President Biden, congressional leaders at the Capitol and the military. Leaders at the Pentagon.
Natalia Abakumova in Riga, Latvia and Anastasia Galushka contributed to this report.
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