SEVASTOPOL: At least one Ukrainian missile struck the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea naval fleet in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on Friday, and a major cyber attack interrupted internet services on the peninsula.
Russia’s defence ministry said one serviceman was missing after the attack, revising its earlier statement that the man had been killed. Air defences had downed five missiles, the ministry said.
Ukraine’s military confirmed it had attacked the Russian Black Sea fleet’s headquarters.
“On Sept 22 close to 12 noon (0900 GMT) Ukraine’s defence forces successfully struck the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea fleet command in the temporarily occupied Sevastopol,” it said on the Telegram messaging app.
The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said the attack had caused a fire and people were being urged to avoid the city centre where the navy building is located, with firefighters working and some roads closed.
Razvozhayev said there were no civilian casualties or damage to civilian infrastructure in his report on the incident on Telegram.
Ukraine has intensified attacks in the Black Sea and Crimea, which was seized and annexed by Russia in 2014, as Ukrainian forces press on with a nearly four-month-old counter-offensive.
Ukrainian officials have described attacks on Russian military targets in Russian-held territory as legitimate.
Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s security council, said there were two options for the future of Russia’s Black Sea fleet — voluntary or forced “self-neutralisation”.
If it did not choose the voluntary option, it “will be sliced up like a salami”, he said on X.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Crimea “will definitely be demilitarised and liberated”.
Moscow says it will never give up the peninsula. Russian authorities said air defences downed another missile on Friday near the town of Bakhchysarai.
Separately, Oleg Kryuchkov, an aide to Crimea head Sergei Aksyonov, said internet service providers on the peninsula were under an “unprecedented cyberattack”, leading to interruptions in service.
Zelensky in Canada
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy started an official visit to close ally Canada on Friday and got a warmer welcome than he received from some US politicians sceptical about providing more military aid.
Canada is one of Kyiv’s staunchest supporters in its war with Russia, and is set to announce during the visit that it is sending more weapons to Ukraine, according to a government official.
In public remarks ahead of a bilateral meeting in Justin Trudeau’s office, the prime minister told Zelensky the visit was “an opportunity for Canadians to express directly to Volodymyr, and through him to the Ukrainian people, how strongly and unequivocally we stand with Ukraine”.
In return, Zelensky said he had “a lot of warm words and thanks” from Ukraine for the military and humanitarian aid Canada had supplied.
The Ukrainian leader earlier said he would be talking to Trudeau about defence cooperation, and would sign treaties to strengthen economic ties.
Dozens of extra police were on duty on Friday in central Ottawa, and roads leading to Parliament Hill were blocked off.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2023