Russians shoot down Ukrainian drones in Crimea as war spreads

Russian authorities reported downing Ukrainian drones on Saturday in Crimea, while Ukrainian officials said Russian forces were continuing their efforts to seize one of the few towns in eastern Ukraine that does not was not yet under their control. The Russian army also continued its strikes in northern and southern Ukraine.

In Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, Russian authorities said local air defenses shot down a drone over Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol. It was the second drone incident at headquarters in three weeks and followed explosions at a Russian airfield and ammunition dump on the peninsula earlier this month.

Oleg Kryuchkov, assistant to the governor of Crimea, also said on Saturday that “attacks by small drones” triggered air defense systems in western Crimea.

“Air defense systems successfully hit all targets in the territory over Crimea on Saturday morning. There were no casualties or material damage,” its boss, Sergei Aksyonov, said on Telegram.

Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev said on Telegram that the city’s air defense systems were brought into action again on Saturday evening.

The incidents underscored the vulnerability of Russian forces in Crimea. A drone attack on Russian Navy headquarters in the Black Sea on July 31 injured five people and forced the cancellation of Russian Navy Day celebrations.

This week, a Russian ammunition depot in Crimea was hit by an explosion. Last week, nine Russian fighter jets were reportedly destroyed at an air base in Crimea.

Ukrainian authorities have ceased to publicly claim responsibility. But President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hinted at Ukrainian attacks behind enemy lines after explosions in Crimea.

Meanwhile, fighting in the southern regions of Ukraine, just north of Crimea, has intensified in recent weeks as Ukrainian forces attempt to drive Russian forces out of towns they have occupied since the start of the war that has been going on for six months.

A Russian missile attack injured 12 people, including three children, and damaged homes and a building on Saturday in the town of Voznesensk, Mykolaiv region, Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office said.

Two of the children were in serious condition and the governor said one had lost an eye.

A Ukrainian airstrike, meanwhile, hit targets in Melitopol, the largest city under Russian control in the Zaporizhzhia region, 100 kilometers north of Crimea, according to local Ukrainian and Russian-based officials.

Ukraine’s military said on Saturday it had destroyed a prized Russian radar system and other equipment stationed in occupied areas of the southern Zaporizhzhia region. It was unclear whether it was the strike on Melitopol.

“Tonight there were powerful explosions in Melitopol, which the whole city heard,” said Ukrainian Mayor of Melitopol Ivan Ferodov.

“According to preliminary data, (it was) a precise hit on one of the Russian military bases, which the Russian fascists are trying to restore for the umpteenth time in the airfield area.” In the east, Ukraine’s military headquarters said on Saturday intensified fighting had taken place around Bakhmut, a small town whose capture would allow Russia to threaten the two largest towns still under Ukrainian control in the region. eastern Donbass.

For weeks, Bakhmut has been a key target in Moscow’s eastern offensive as the Russian military attempts to complete a months-long campaign to conquer all of Donbass, where pro-Moscow separatists have proclaimed two republics that Russia recognized as sovereign states at the start of the war.

A local Ukrainian official reported heavy fighting on Saturday near four settlements on the border of Lugansk and Donetsk provinces, which together form the disputed Donbass region.

Luhansk Governor Serhii Haidai did not name the settlements. Russian forces overran almost all of Luhansk last month and have since focused on capturing Ukrainian-held areas of Donetsk.

Russian shelling killed seven civilians in Donetsk province on Friday, including four in Bakhmut, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram on Saturday. Taking Bakhmut would give the Russians the opportunity to advance on the province’s main Ukrainian towns, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

Ukraine said Sloviansk and Kramatorsk were targeted on Friday, along with the northern Kharkiv region, home to Ukraine’s second-largest city.

Local authorities reported renewed Russian shelling overnight along a broad front, including the northern regions of Kharkiv and Sumy, which border Russia, as well as the eastern region of Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolaiv.

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Christi C. Elwood