Ukraine has reported the destruction of “multiple” Russian cruise missiles as they were being transported by rail to Russia’s Black Sea fleet in Crimea.
Ukraine’s military agency said late on Monday that multiple Kalibr cruise missiles were destroyed by an explosion, without explicitly saying Ukraine was responsible for the blast or exactly how the shipment of powerful missiles was destroyed.
“An explosion in Dzhankoi city in the north of temporarily occupied Crimea destroyed Russian Kalibr-KN cruise missiles as they were being transported by rail,” Ukraine’s intelligence agency said in social media posts. The missiles were destined for submarine launch by the Russian Black Sea fleet, the agency said.
Ihor Ivin, the Russian-installed head of the Dzhankoi administration, was quoted as saying the city had come under attack from drones and a 33-year-old man suffered a shrapnel injury from a downed drone.
He was hospitalized and was expected to survive. A house, school and grocery store caught fire, and the power grid also sustained damage in the attack, Russia’s state-owned news agency TASS quoted Ivin as saying on the local Krym-24 TV channel.
The Russian-appointed governor of Crimea, Sergei Aksenov, said on social media that anti-aircraft weapons were fired in the vicinity of Dzhankoi, where Ukraine’s intelligence agency said the cruise missiles were destroyed. Aksenov said falling debris injured one person and damaged a home as well as a store.
Russian officials did not confirm that missiles were destroyed in the attack. Ukrainian media reported that the sound of drone engines was heard before the explosion in Dzhankoi.
Kalibr cruise missiles have been used frequently in Russian attacks on Ukraine. In July 2022, a submarine-launched Kalibr cruise missile killed 23 civilians — including three children — in the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia. Russia claimed the missile was directed at a meeting of Ukrainian air force commanders and representatives of Western arms suppliers.
Sounds of the drones that hit Dzhankoy in occupied Crimea are similar to those of the Iranian Shahed-136/131 drones.
Some sources speculate that Shaheds were retargeted to Crimea-based targets. More likely, Ukraine has developed drones with similar engines.
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— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) March 20, 2023
While reports of attacks on Russian military bases, assassinations and other targets in Crimea have featured regularly throughout the war, Ukraine has rarely, if ever, explicitly claimed responsibility for such attacks but does welcome their outcome.
The reported destruction of the shipment of cruise missiles in Crimea follows Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the peninsula on Saturday in an unannounced tour to mark the ninth anniversary of the region’s annexation from Ukraine.
Putin made the trip the day after the International Criminal Court (ICC) said it had issued an arrest warrant for his arrest on suspicion of war crimes for illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. The court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights. Russia claims the deportation of children from Ukraine is a humanitarian act.
The ICC warrants were immediately dismissed by Moscow as outrageous and welcomed by Ukraine as a major breakthrough in pursuing justice for the victims of Russian war crimes.
In a precursor to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Moscow seized Crimea in 2014, then annexed the peninsula in a move many countries condemned as illegal.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy has promised to recapture all the Ukrainian land that Russia now occupies, including Crimea.