Update 9/26/23 9:05 EST: Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Commander appeared at a meeting on Tuesday, a day after Ukraine claimed he was killed
Ukraine has claimed an attack it launched on the Crimean peninsula on Friday killed 34 Russian officers, including the head of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, Adm. Viktor Sokolov.
The Ukrainian claim is not confirmed, and the Russian side only reported one serviceman missing after the strike, which targeted the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters in Sevastopol. Ukrainian sources told media outlets that the strike was launched with British-provided Storm Shadow missiles, which have a range of about 155 miles.
“After the defeat of the headquarters of the Russian armed forces, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian armed forces. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored,” Ukraine’s special operations forces said Monday.
Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, initially claimed the Friday strike killed nine people and wounded 16. The Ukrainian military said the strike was timed to target a meeting of Russian naval officers.
Ukraine has significantly stepped up its attacks on Crimea in recent weeks amid its faltering counteroffensive. The Friday attack came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was visiting Canada’s parliament and joined them in a standing ovation for a Ukrainian World War II veteran who fought for the Nazis, a moment that caused an international outcry, forcing Canadia’s speaker of the house to apologize.
Ukrainian attacks inside Crimea risk a major escalation of the war, especially attacks launched using NATO weapons like the Storm Shadow missiles, which can be launched by Ukraine’s Soviet-made jets. The British provision of the Storm Shadows marked a significant escalation of NATO support for Ukraine due to their range.