Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said that the US and Britain helped Ukraine with the September 22 missile strike that targeted the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea.
“There is not the slightest doubt that this attack was pre-planned with the use of Western intelligence means and NATO satellite equipment and spy planes and was implemented at the request of and in close coordination with the US and British secret services,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
A Ukrainian source told BBC that the strike was launched using British-provided Storm Shadow missiles, which have a range of up to 155 miles, but the full extent of British or US involvement in the attack is not clear.
Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said back in February that the US was “supporting” Ukrainian attacks on Crimea, suggesting that the US might provide intelligence for such operations. In recent weeks, Ukraine has significantly increased attacks on Crimea as its counteroffensive is faltering.
“The obvious aim of such terrorist acts is to distract attention from the Ukrainian army’s failed attempts of mount a counteroffensive and intimidate the people and trigger panic in our society,” Zakharova.
Ukraine’s special operations forces have claimed that the September 22 strike killed 34 Russian officers. But the Russian side has not confirmed any deaths, only saying one serviceman was missing after the strike. Ukraine also claimed the strike killed Russia’s Black Sea Fleet commander, Adm. Viktor Sokolov, but he appeared at a Russian Defense Ministry meeting on Tuesday.