A drone attack hit the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea on Sunday, causing an explosion that wounded six people, and making the city of Sevastopol cancel its Russian Navy Day celebration.
Russian officials accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack, but officials in Kyiv have not taken credit for the incident. Olga Kovitidi, a Russian senator from Crimea, labeled the explosion a “terrorist attack” and said it wasn’t clear where it was launched from.
The attack came after Ukrainian officials said they were planning to target Crimea and Russia’s Black Sea Fleet using Western-provided arms. But reports described the drone that hit the Black Sea Fleet headquarters as a “makeshift drone” that was carrying a “low-powered explosive device,” suggesting it was not similar to the kamikaze drones the US has given Ukraine.
Oleksiy Arestovich, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said the drone attack showed that Russia has weak air defenses in Crimea. “Did the occupiers admit the helplessness of their air defense system? Or their helplessness in front of the Crimean partisans?”
Arestovich suggested that Ukraine could take out the Crimean bridge that connects the peninsula to mainland Russia. The bridge was built after Crimea was absorbed by the Russian Federation in 2014. Ukraine recently took out a much smaller bridge that crosses the Dneiper river in the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Kherson using US-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
When the US first gave Ukraine HIMARS, it was under the condition that they wouldn’t be used to target Russian territory. But since the US and Ukraine don’t recognize Crimea as Russian, Ukrainian officials have signaled they could use the HIMARS against the peninsula. When asked if the ban on using HIMARS on Russian territory applies to Crimea, the US State Department responded, “Crimea is Ukraine.”