Kyiv, Ukraine –
Ukraine launched a heavy missile strike on the main headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on Friday and one serviceman was missing, the Russian Defense Ministry said. Photos and videos showed large plumes of smoke above the building in Sevastopol, annexed Crimea.
The ministry initially said a soldier had been killed, but later issued a statement saying he was missing.
The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said no one was injured outside the burning headquarters, and he did not provide information on other casualties. Firefighters battled the blaze and more emergency forces were mobilized, indicating the fire could be massive.
Residents of Sevastopol reported hearing explosions in the sky and seeing smoke, Russian media reported. Images broadcast on Ukrainian Telegram channels showed clouds of smoke above the waterfront. The Associated Press could not immediately verify the videos.
A stream of ambulances arrived at the fleet headquarters and shrapnel was scattered hundreds of meters around, the Tass news agency reported.
The Defense Ministry said five missiles were shot down by Russian air defense systems in response to the Sevastopol attack. It was not immediately clear whether the headquarters was hit in a direct strike or by debris from an intercepted missile.
Oleg Kryuchkov, a Crimean administration official, said a cruise missile shot down near Bakhchysarai, about 30 kilometers inland, had started a grass fire.
Razvozhayev said civilian infrastructure was not damaged, but did not mention the impact on fleet headquarters.
He first warned Sevastopol residents that another attack was possible and urged them not to leave buildings or go to the city center. He later said there was no longer any threat of an airstrike, but reiterated calls not to travel to the center of the city, saying roads were closed and “special efforts” were not being made. specified were in progress.
Police asked residents to leave the center of the city, Tass said.
Ukrainian officials, who have claimed responsibility for a series of other recent attacks on Crimea, did not immediately announce that kyiv had launched the attack.
The attack comes a day after Russian missiles and artillery bombarded cities in Ukraine, killing at least five people, as President Volodymyr Zelensky met with President Joe Biden and congressional leaders in Washington, a additional aid package of $24 billion being considered.
The port city of Sevastopol serves as the main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. A Ukrainian drone struck fleet headquarters in July 2022, injuring six people and causing minor damage to the building.
Last week, Russian authorities in the city accused Ukraine of attacking a strategic shipyard in the city, damaging two ships under repair and causing a fire at the facility.
The Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 in an act considered illegal by most of the world, has been a frequent target since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of the Ukraine more than 18 months ago. The attack on the shipyard was the largest in weeks.
Separately, ongoing shelling in the southern Kherson region killed one man and injured another, regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said.
“Kherson has been agitated since morning,” he said on Telegram.
Russian bombing started fires in a residential building and a garage.
In Kharkiv, regional governor Oleh Synyehubov said more than 14 settlements had been attacked. A house was damaged and a fire broke out in Vovchansk, Chuguyiv district. There were no casualties, the governor said.