Russian aerial defence systems destroyed a wave of 19 Ukrainian drones that were launched overnight in attacks against targets in the Russia-annexed Crimean peninsula, the surrounding Black Sea and other regions of Russia.
The Russian defence ministry said early on Thursday that it had “thwarted” the attacks by Ukraine’s aircraft-type unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
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“In the night from 20th to 21st September, an attempt by the Kyiv regime to commit a terrorist attack with lethal drones on sites in the Russian Federation was intercepted,” the defence ministry said on the Telegram messaging app.
“Air defence systems destroyed 19 Ukrainian UAVs over the Black Sea and the territory of the Republic of Crimea, and one each over the territories of Kursk, Belgorod and Oryol regions,” the ministry said.
The Belgorod and Kursk regions of Russia border eastern Ukraine, while Oryol is closer to the capital, Moscow. The defence ministry provided no details on casualties or possible damage.
Kyiv has promised to recapture the Black Sea peninsula and Ukrainian forces have launched aerial attacks with increasing frequency on targets in Crimea, which was seized and annexed by Russia in 2014.
Russian naval targets in the Black Sea have also been hit, including attacks by surface seaborne drones launched by Kyiv.
On Wednesday, the Ukrainian military said its forces had successfully struck a Russian Black Sea fleet command post near Sevastopol in Crimea.
Ukrainian media reported that loud explosions were heard in Crimea, particularly in the area of the Belbek and Kacha military airfields. Both are located north of Sevastopol.
Authorities in Crimea have downplayed the incident and said that Ukrainian attacks are being successfully repelled.
Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to the Russia-appointed governor of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, said on Telegram: “We are asking all Crimeans to remain calm.
“If you hear the sounds of a drone flying by or air defence systems, move away from the windows … If you find the wreckage of a UAV shot down by air defence or landed by electronic warfare, please contact special services or hotlines.”
Ukraine’s ability to launch long-range attacks against targets in Crimea, the Black Sea and Russia has been noted by military analysts as displaying Kyiv’s growing offensive sophistication.
Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, said a recent attack by Ukraine on the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol demonstrated Kyiv’s ability to launch complex attacks using missiles and drones.
“This kind of operation is one of the reasons I remain confident that Ukraine will win the war – they have the ability to execute complex operations at a much higher level than the Russians,” O’Brien said earlier this week.