Russia’s defence ministry has said its air defence forces destroyed a large-scale Ukrainian-launched drone attack on the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Crimea has been targeted by Kyiv since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, but has come under more intense, increased attacks in recent weeks.
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The Russian Ministry of Defence said early on Friday its forces shot down nine drones, while 33 others “were suppressed by electronic warfare and crashed without reaching the target”.
It did not elaborate on whether there had been any damage or casualties. It added that it had also shot down a Ukraine-launched missile over the Kaluga region, which borders the Moscow region.
Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-installed governor of the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, said on the Telegram messaging app that several drones were destroyed over the Khersones promontory. The cape is located on the outskirts of Sevastopol, which is home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
It was not clear whether those drones were among the 42 reported by the defence ministry.
“All forces and services are in a state of combat readiness,” Razvozhayev said.
Kyiv has repeatedly said it plans to take back Crimea, and the drone assault comes two days after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told a Kyiv conference on Crimea that the peninsula would be “de-occupied like all other parts of Ukraine that are unfortunately still under the occupier”.
On Thursday, Ukraine said its forces had landed on the peninsula and raised the country’s flag during a “special operation” to mark its second wartime Independence Day.
The special forces troops landed on Crimea’s western shore near the towns of Olenivka and Mayak, where they had “engaged in combat”, Ukraine’s GUR intelligence agency said.
Moscow has also accused Ukraine of attacking the Russian-built bridge that connects the peninsula to Russia and is a key supply route for the Russian military.
The bridge, the only crossing over the Kerch Strait, has been closed due to multiple incidents, including an explosion in July.
Russia has shown no sign of abandoning Crimea, which it has been using as a platform to launch missiles on Ukrainian targets.
Moscow took control of Crimea after a referendum held after Russian forces seized the peninsula nine years ago that it claimed showed the people of Crimea, who mainly speak Russian, wanted to be part of Russia.
Ukraine has dismissed the referendum as a sham, and the international community does not recognise Moscow’s jurisdiction.