Ukraine executed a precise strike on Russian naval assets and port facilities in Sevastopol, Crimea, early Wednesday. This attack, marking a significant blow to the Russian navy’s Black Sea Fleet, stands out as one of the most substantial offensives witnessed during the ongoing conflict.
An official from Ukrainian intelligence disclosed that a large vessel and a submarine bore the brunt of the assault, leaving them severely damaged, possibly irreparable. The strike’s impact underscores Kyiv’s advancing missile capabilities, countering Russia’s relentless barrage of long-range missiles and assault drones on Ukraine.
“We confirm a large landing vessel and submarine were hit. We do not comment on the means (used) for the strike,” affirmed Ukrainian military intelligence official Andriy Yusov to Reuters. However, no additional specifics regarding the extent of the damage were provided.
Yusov later conveyed to national television: “Those are significant damages. We can now say that with a high probability they are not subject to restoration.”
Russia’s defence ministry issued a statement indicating that Ukraine targeted a Black Sea shipyard with 10 cruise missiles and three uncrewed speedboats in the early hours, resulting in damage to two military vessels under repair. They reported successfully intercepting seven incoming missiles, with the attack boats neutralized by a Russian patrol ship.
A verified image circulated online revealing a severely compromised docked vessel.
Yuri Ihnat, spokesperson for Ukraine’s air force, approached the Russian claim of downing most incoming missiles with caution. “It’s hard to say how many they were capable of downing,” Ihnat asserted during the national broadcast. “It is important not to underestimate their anti-aircraft units. Perhaps they destroyed them. Perhaps not.”
Retired Ukrainian navy captain Andriy Ryzhenko, in conversation with Reuters, stated: “It really is the biggest attack on Sevastopol since the beginning of the war.”
Sevastopol is home to the Black Sea Fleet, which the Kremlin deploys to exert influence in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Throughout the conflict in Ukraine, it was instrumental in enforcing a de facto blockade on Ukraine’s seaborne food exports through the Turkish straits.
Ukraine has made attempts to counter the fleet’s maritime dominance by deploying explosive-laden sea drones. Despite these efforts, Russia has persisted in employing its warships for missile assaults on Ukraine throughout the 18-month-long conflict.
The specific type of missile employed by Kyiv in the Sevastopol strike remains undisclosed. Sevastopol is situated approximately 300 km (185 miles) from Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa.
Russia’s Defence Ministry later reported the detection and destruction of three Ukrainian uncrewed boats in the Black Sea.
Ryzhenko speculated that Ukraine may have utilized domestically-produced Neptune anti-ship missiles, possibly modified for ground targets. He also suggested the use of British-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles.
Sky News, citing unnamed sources, indicated that Storm Shadows might have been employed in the assault.
The West has provided Ukraine with substantial weaponry to repel Russian forces that have occupied extensive territories in the south and east since their full-scale invasion in February 2022.
In a remarkable departure from usual practice, the Ukrainian military openly claimed responsibility for the strike, a move not typical for attacks on Russia or Crimea.
“On the morning of Sept. 13 the Ukrainian armed forces conducted successful strikes on naval assets and port infrastructure of the occupiers at the docks of temporarily occupied Sevastopol,” declared a statement on Telegram.
Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-appointed governor of Sevastopol, reported on Telegram that at least 24 individuals had sustained injuries. He shared a night photo depicting flames consuming what appeared to be port infrastructure. Russian Telegram channels circulated videos and images of the blaze at a waterfront facility.
In Sevastopol, residents spoke of being jolted awake by the assault. “My child was woken up as well. It was about 3 in the morning. We got very scared. Everything was shaking,” recounted Nadezhda Lunyova.