Ukraine has massively fired missiles at Russian military facilities on the annexed Crimean peninsula. The exact effects of the attack are not yet known. The Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow spoke on Wednesday of 20 attacking cruise missiles from Ukraine. The attack targeted air force bases near Sevastopol and Yevpatoriya as well as other locations in Crimea. There was no official statement from the Ukrainian side. However, an entry from Air Force Commander Mykola Oleschtschuk on Telegram could be understood as confirmation.
For its part, the Russian army attacked Ukraine again with combat drones on Thursday night. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, swarms of drones flew towards the large city of Kharkiv in the east. According to authorities, an aerial bomb hit a hospital in Velykiy Burluk in the Kharkiv region, slightly injuring four people. Russia has been waging a war of aggression against Ukraine for almost two years, including air attacks almost every night. Thursday is the 708th day of the war.
Attack on Crimean Belbek Air Base
Ukraine's arsenal includes Storm Shadow and Scalp cruise missiles supplied by Great Britain and France. The Russian Defense Ministry said 17 missiles had already been intercepted over the Black Sea and three more over Crimea. The information cannot be independently verified. Debris from the intercepted bullets fell on a military site near the village of Lyubimowka north of Sevastopol, the statement said. The large Belbek air base used by the Russians is located there, but its name was not mentioned. “No aircraft equipment was damaged,” the ministry said.
According to unofficial reports, the attack was larger in scale. Smoke can be seen both in the south and in the north of Sevastopol, the Telegram channel “Krymski Weter” reported. In the north of the city, a thick cloud is rising near Belbek. Explosions were also reported in the area of the Russian military air base at Saki near Yevpatoria. Accordingly, many Russian fighter jets took off to avoid being hit on the ground.
Air force commander indirectly admits attack
Oleshchuk, commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, recalled on Telegram that Belbek was the location of Ukraine's 204th tactical aviation brigade until 2014. “Ukrainian airmen will definitely return to their home base,” he wrote. The lieutenant general attached a video to the entry that allegedly shows a hit on Belbek on Wednesday. The rocket attack was preceded by Ukrainian drone attacks, which probably took out part of the Russian air defense in Crimea.
Crimea, which was annexed in 2014, is particularly important for Russian warfare. Many troops are stationed there and supplies flow across the peninsula. Sevastopol is the home port of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, although most ships have been withdrawn from there. Thanks to improved drones of its own and weapons with longer ranges from Western supplies, Ukraine can increasingly fight military targets in Crimea. The Ukrainian leadership is aiming to recapture the peninsula.
Zelenskyj sees Ukraine still facing a difficult winter
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj addressed the ongoing Russian bombings during the night in a video speech. The situation is already better than a year before. "The energy situation has changed fundamentally compared to last winter. The system has been preserved," he said. Nevertheless, Ukraine will still have a lot to overcome in the winter. "There will be Russian terrorist attacks, and the Russians will try to break through our defenses," Zelensky said. He thanked the anti-aircraft troops, but also the emergency services and the civilian engineers who maintain the energy system. Last winter, Russia targeted the infrastructure, which meant that many Ukrainians lost electricity, heating, gas and water for hours or days. Thanks to Western systems, Ukrainian air defense is now better equipped.
Putin sends Russian banks to the occupied territories
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on his country's banks not to hesitate and operate in the annexed territories of Ukraine. "What they once feared, the sanctions, has long since happened. Why be afraid?" said Putin in Moscow at a meeting on the region's social and economic development. “You have to be more active in going to these areas and working there.”
Russia annexed Crimea, which had previously been Ukrainian, in 2014. After the 2022 invasion, Moscow also declared the Ukrainian administrative regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson to be Russian territory, in violation of international law. Russian troops only control part of these territories militarily. Russian banks were already cautious about getting involved in Crimea because of Western sanctions. They are also hardly represented in the other regions.
That will be important on Thursday
At a special EU summit in Brussels, a final attempt will be made to convince Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to support planned new aid to Ukraine. The package of 50 billion euros until the end of 2027 should actually have been decided last December. At that time, Orban vetoed it. The Hungarian has repeatedly questioned the usefulness of the plans. He also says that, in his view, the EU has wrongly frozen money from the community budget for Hungary. Before the summit, Orban indicated that Hungary was ready to be part of a solution.