Ukraine Attacks Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, Russia Says

US

The Russian-installed authorities in occupied Crimea said Ukrainian forces targeted the peninsula with another air attack on Saturday, the second in two days as Kyiv increasingly takes aim at the region in an effort to disrupt Moscow’s military operations.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, the governor of Sevastopol, Crimea’s largest city and the home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, said that air defenses had been activated in the area and that debris from a downed rocket fell in the bay. The local authorities issued several warnings about possible air assaults on Saturday morning, urging residents to stay calm and seek shelter.

Saturday’s attack, which was not immediately confirmed by Ukraine’s military, came a day after Ukrainian forces launched a missile strike that damaged the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters. Russia’s Defense Ministry said that a serviceman was missing after that attack.

The back-to-back assaults on Crimea, which the Kremlin illegally annexed in 2014, are part of a Ukrainian campaign to hit deep behind Russian lines in an effort to sever Moscow’s battlefield supply chain and undermine Russia’s ability to hit Ukrainian territory from afar. In recent weeks, Ukraine has sharply accelerated the pace of strikes on the peninsula, hitting air-defense systems, a submarine and a command post.

Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion last year, Moscow has used Crimea to stockpile fuel and ammunition to be funneled to the battlefields in southern Ukraine, where Kyiv is currently trying to break through Russian defensive lines. Ships from the Black Sea Fleet also have fired hundreds of missiles at Ukraine.

“A lot of Ukrainian cities and towns are within reach from Crimea,” Samuel Bendett, a Russian weapons analyst at the Center for Naval Analysis, said in an interview. “Controlling Crimea is essential if Russia wants to maintain its war effort and to keep Ukraine off balance and to maintain its positions in the territories it already captured.”

It was not immediately clear whether Saturday’s attack had hit any strategic targets. Mr. Razvozhayev said that debris had fallen near the pier in the Sukharnaya Bay — part of the larger Sevastopol Bay, which houses many military vessels and submarines — and in a park just a mile north of the harbor. The Russian state news agency Tass reported that emergency services had left for the scene and that passenger ship traffic had been suspended.

The extent of Friday’s attack on the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters also remains unclear. Video footage showed that at least one airborne weapon hit what appeared to be the headquarters, engulfing the building in billows of thick black smoke.

“Hitting such an object always has a very powerful result, not only in terms of firepower, but also in terms of moral and psychological impact,” Natalia Humeniuk, the spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military southern command, said on Ukrainian television. “Because hitting command and control points always adds more confusion to the command and control of troops.”

The intensified attacks on Sevastopol and Russia’s military fleet come as Kyiv is trying to secure part of the Black Sea following Moscow’s withdrawal from a deal that allowed Ukraine to export its grain by sea. Russia’s military warned at around the same time that it would consider any ship approaching a Ukrainian port a potential military threat.

The grain deal, which was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, was a topic of discussion at the U.N. General Assembly this week. On Saturday, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, suggested at a news conference there was little chance for a resumption of the agreement, saying proposals for reviving the deal were “not realistic.” Russia has said it would not return to the deal until conditions were met that would allow its own agricultural products and fertilizers to make it to world markets.

Iulia-Sabina Joja, the head of the Black Sea Program at the Middle East Institute research group, said Ukrainian forces have since targeted the Black Sea Fleet in part to force it to stay away from a safe corridor that Kyiv has been trying to establish for civilian freighters in the northwestern part of the sea.

This week, two ships loaded with grain safely sailed through the corridor, and on Saturday the American ambassador in Kyiv said three more cargo ships were expected to use the same route.

Here’s what else is happening in the war:

  • Russian Attacks: Russian forces attacked multiple cities and villages over the past day, Ukrainian authorities said on Saturday. At least three civilians were killed and dozens of others injured in strikes on the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Poltava regions.

  • Zelensky Trip: Mr. Zelensky has wrapped up his trip to North America, writing Saturday on social media that he held an unscheduled meeting at the airport in Shannon, Ireland, with the leader of Sudan’s military, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Mr. Zelensky had been in Canada on Friday following his appearance at the General Assembly and visit to Washington. He later stopped in Lublin, Poland, where he presented two Ukrainian state awards to a Polish journalist and a medical volunteer, who both helped provide aid to Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.

Farnaz Fassihi contributed reporting.

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