Missile hits the occupied port of Sevastopol
Missile strikes on Russian military bases in occupied Crimea destroyed more than £340m worth of military equipment, Express.co.uk can reveal.
While Vladimir Putin spoke with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in far east Russia about the potential procurement of weaponry to be used in Ukraine on Wednesday morning, his naval hardware was being aggressively targeted thousands of miles away.
At around 1.30am, a series of explosions rang out after missiles struck a dry dock in Korabelnaya Bay, Sevastopol, where military vessels are kept to be repaired.
At least 24 people were injured in the attack, all of whom worked for the dock, according to the local governor.
Two military vessels, including a Soviet-era landing ship and a submarine, were also damaged. They were likely the intended target of these strikes.
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While Russia did not identify the damaged vessels, a photo published by the Kremlin-backed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, showed a picture of one of the affected ships behind him.
Military experts subsequently identified the vessel as the “Minsk” landing ship, a Ropucha-class piece of hardware built in Poland in 1983.
Russian media sources later claimed that the “Rostov-on-Don” submarine, a Kilo-class vessel added to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in 2014, was also damaged in the strikes.
Both were undergoing repairs on a dry dock in Korabelnaya Bay when the attack took place.
Satellite images, as well as additional footage on the ground, published this afternoon have since shown the “Minsk” ship was still burning hours after the attack. One military expert said it looked “completely demolished”.
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The combined value of these two vessels is estimated to be more than £340 million, which is a conservative estimate.
The submarine is estimated to be worth £240 million ($300m), according to a Ukrainian politician and junior sergeant, while the value of the “Minsk” landing ship is worth at least £100m, according to estimates of other Ropucha-class landing ships.
Ukraine has not officially claimed responsibility for the attack, in accordance with its standard protocol on strikes in Russian-occupied territories, but high-ranking military officials have alluded to their involvement.
Ukraine’s air force commander Mykola Oleschuk thanked “the pilots of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for their excellent combat work” in a morning update on Telegram. He shared a picture of the damaged port alongside his message.
Last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to do all he can to liberate Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, and has urged international allies to support the effort.
Longer range attacks on occupied territories have increased in intensity as Ukraine’s forces advance in their counteroffensive. They have been recently armed with higher-ranged British Storm Shadow missiles, which have additionally improved their ability to attack deeper into occupied regions.
And on Monday, Ukraine claimed it recaptured strategic gas and oil drilling platforms in the Black Sea that Russia seized in 2015. Russia had used the platforms to stage weapons and launch helicopters. Ukraine said they would help it regain Crimea.
In April last year, the missile cruiser Moskva, the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s flagship vessel, sank off the coast of Odessa after two Neptune anti-ship missiles hit the ship.
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