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Ukrainian drone attack on Crimea ‘set the stage for counter-offensive’ as Russian fears mount

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Yesterday’s drone attack in Crimea could be the start of a counter-offensive against Russian invaders with more attacks to follow, a Ukrainian defense spokesman has suggested.

It follows a major fire yesterday at a fuel tank in Sevastopol, the capital of the peninsula – home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet – which Russia attributed to a Ukrainian drone.

Plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the depot after the strike destroyed 10 petroleum product tanks with a total capacity of 40,000 tonnes, according to Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence (GUR).

‘[The strike] is one of the elements of preparing for a counter-offensive,” said Natalya Gumenyuk, spokesperson for the Armed Forces Southern Operational Command.

Russian servicemen were reportedly made apprehensive by the strike and made efforts to evacuate their families and potentially flee Crimea themselves, News In France reports.

A firefighter talks on the walkie-talkie as smoke and flames rise from a burning fuel tank in Sevastopol, Crimea

A firefighter talks on the walkie-talkie as smoke and flames rise from a burning fuel tank in Sevastopol, Crimea

Plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the depot after the strike destroyed 10 petroleum product tanks with a total capacity of 40,000 tonnes, according to Ukraine's Defense Intelligence (GUR).

Plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the depot after the strike destroyed 10 petroleum product tanks with a total capacity of 40,000 tonnes, according to Ukraine's Defense Intelligence (GUR).

Plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the depot after the strike destroyed 10 petroleum product tanks with a total capacity of 40,000 tonnes, according to Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence (GUR).

“These works are preparatory to a large-scale offensive, which everyone expects,” said a representative of the defense forces.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-based governor of Sevastopol, posted videos and photos of the fire on his Telegram channel.

The strike came as Ukraine prepares for a long-promised counteroffensive to push back Russian forces from territory they have seized since their invasion in February 2022.

Ukraine claims that control of all of its legal territory, including Crimea, is an essential condition for any peace agreement. Russian forces occupied the peninsula in 2014.

Moscow has accused kyiv of sending waves of air and sea drones to attack Crimea.

Razvozhaev said only one drone hit the oil tanks and said two other attempted drone strikes were intercepted. He urged Crimeans to “stay calm” and said “no one was hurt”.

He estimated the fire to be “about 1,000 square meters” (11,000 square feet).

Razvozhayev insisted that the reserves on the peninsula had not been affected and that the authorities had enough fuel for all civilian needs.

The strike came as Ukraine prepares for a long-promised counteroffensive to push back Russian forces from territory they have seized since their invasion in February 2022.

The strike came as Ukraine prepares for a long-promised counteroffensive to push back Russian forces from territory they have seized since their invasion in February 2022.

The strike came as Ukraine prepares for a long-promised counteroffensive to push back Russian forces from territory they have seized since their invasion in February 2022.

The aftermath of the drone attack on the largest Black Sea port city could be seen for miles around

The aftermath of the drone attack on the largest Black Sea port city could be seen for miles around

The aftermath of the drone attack on the largest Black Sea port city could be seen for miles around

“The enemy… wanted to take Sevastopol by surprise, as usual, by staging a sneak attack in the morning,” Razvozhaev wrote on the Telegram app. Russian firefighters showed how to overcome a major fire “and prevent a disaster”, he added.

Ukraine is believed to lack longer-range missiles that can hit targets in places like Sevastopol, but has developed drones to overcome this hurdle.

Ukrainian officials generally do not claim responsibility for explosions at military sites in Crimea, although they sometimes celebrate them using euphemistic language.

It came less than 24 hours after Russia struck a typical Soviet-era building in the historic city of Uman, killing more than two dozen residents.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his Saturday evening speech, said six children had been killed in the attack – the previous figure given by authorities was five.

“We will do everything we can to hold the terrorist state accountable for its actions as soon as possible,” he added.

“Anyone planning such rocket attacks can only know that they will become an accomplice to murder.”

Zelensky did not directly refer to the months-long fighting for the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, the focus of repeated Russian assaults that have slowly moved closer to the center.

The Ukrainian leader said next week would be important in terms of “our fight for justice”.

Ukraine is believed to lack longer-range missiles that can hit targets in places like Sevastopol, but has developed drones to overcome this hurdle

Ukraine is believed to lack longer-range missiles that can hit targets in places like Sevastopol, but has developed drones to overcome this hurdle

Ukraine is believed to lack longer-range missiles that can hit targets in places like Sevastopol, but has developed drones to overcome this hurdle

Ukrainian officials generally do not claim responsibility for explosions at military sites in Crimea, although they sometimes celebrate them using euphemistic language.

Ukrainian officials generally do not claim responsibility for explosions at military sites in Crimea, although they sometimes celebrate them using euphemistic language.

Ukrainian officials generally do not claim responsibility for explosions at military sites in Crimea, although they sometimes celebrate them using euphemistic language.

He stressed that kyiv was preparing “several important and powerful steps to consolidate our partners and give more energy to the creation of a court for the crime of Russian aggression”. And to hasten the defeat of the terrorist state”.

Earlier, kyiv identified an 18-month-old boy among the victims.

“A woman is considered missing. The search continues,” Ukrainian Interior Minister Igor Klymenko said.

Ukraine did not claim responsibility for the Crimean attack, but military intelligence suggested it was revenge for Uman.

Andriy Yusov of the Defense Ministry’s intelligence unit said it was “God’s punishment, especially for the civilians killed in Uman”.

He warned Crimean residents to “avoid being near military installations and facilities supplying the aggressor’s army in the near future”.

The attacks are largely carried out by the Wagnerian private army. Its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said his forces had advanced between 100 (300ft) and 150 meters on Saturday and claimed pro-kyiv units now controlled just three square kilometers (1.2 square miles).

Prigozhin, speaking in a voicemail posted on Telegram, repeated his complaints that Moscow was not sending enough ammunition to its men. Prigozhin has made overly optimistic statements about Wagner’s military successes in the past, and Reuters was unable to immediately verify his latest claim.

Razvozhayev said the fire at the city’s port was given the highest ranking in terms of complexity to put out. However, he reported that the open fire had been brought under control.

Razvozhayev said the oil depot was attacked by “two enemy drones” and four oil tanks were set on fire. A third drone was shot down from the sky, and another was disabled by radio-electronic means, according to the governor of Crimea appointed in Moscow, Sergei Aksyonov.

Russia annexed Crimea to Ukraine in 2014, a move most countries around the world considered illegal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview this week that his country would seek to reclaim the peninsula in the next counteroffensive.

In southern Ukraine, Russian occupation authorities said a key town they control – Novaya Kakhovka – had come under “intense shelling” and been cut from power.

The city fell to Russian forces on the first day of their invasion on February 24, 2022. It lies in the part of the Kherson region that Moscow still controls, having withdrawn from the eponymous regional capital last November.

Russian forces urged residents of the town to “keep calm”, saying work to restore power would begin “after the shelling stops”.

The bombing of Novaya Kakhovka came a day after Russian shelling killed a 57-year-old woman in a village in southern Ukraine. Zelensky had promised an answer.

Inside Russia, there are fears of an expected Ukrainian counter-offensive.

The governor of the Belgorod border region – also hit by several attacks during the war – said on Saturday that five border villages were without electricity after Ukrainian shelling.

“The power lines are damaged,” Gladkov said, adding that there were no casualties.

Elsewhere, Russia has accused Poland – with whom it has a historically bad relationship – of “flagrant violation” of international standards after Warsaw seized a school run by the Russian embassy in the Polish capital.

Moscow called the move an “illegal act” and promised “harsh” consequences.

Origin: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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