Senior leadership among those killed in strike on Russia's Black Sea Fleet, Ukraine says

UniqueThis 104 September 22, 2023

A strike on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters left dozens dead and wounded “including senior leadership,” the Ukrainian military said Saturday.

Operation “Crab trap” was carried out “on time and accurately” during a meeting of the Russian navy’s senior members at the building in the Crimean city of Sevastopol on Friday, the country's Special Operations Forces said in a statement posted to Telegram.

“The result is dozens of dead and wounded occupants, including the senior leadership of the fleet,” the post said, adding that more details would be released “as soon as possible.” 

NBC News has been unable to independently verify this report, but shortly after the attack, Russia's defense ministry said that one serviceman was killed. A later statement said that he was missing, adding that five missiles were shot down by Russian air defense systems responding to the attack on the occupied coastal city. 

NBC News has approached the defense ministry for comment.

Mikhail Razvozhaev, the Moscow installed governor of Sevastopol said in a Telegram post Saturday that firefighters had “managed to get the fire under control,” and “the fire at the fleet headquarters was successfully localized.”

Meanwhile inside Ukraine, the country's armed forces said in a statement that a Russian missile attack on the central industrial city of Kremenchuk injured more than 30 people, including three children overnight on Friday.

Civilians in Yurkivka, in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region were also injured in missile attacks, with private homes and civilian infrastructure damaged, the statement posted to Facebook added. 

Russian attacks used “Shahed” missiles — Iranian-made unarmed, self-detonating drones. Air defenses shot down two out of six of the drones, the statement said.

NBC News could not independently verify these reports.

The attacks came as Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy met with President Joe Biden and congressional leaders in Washington. On Friday, Biden told his Ukrainian counterpart that the U.S. would provide a small number of long-range Army Tactical Missile System, known as ATACMS and colloquially as “attack-ems,” to boost the fight against Russia.

The missiles were part of a $325 million military aid package announced by President Biden Thursday, including air defense capabilities, cluster munitions and anti-tank weaponry. 

Kyiv has been lobbying to receive the missiles for several months. They will give Ukraine the ability to strike targets such as supply lines, railways and command and control locations behind Russian front lines from up to 180 miles away. 

While Ukrainian troops have breached Russia’s heavily fortified first defensive lines in the south and made progress in the east, with winter approaching the Ukrainian military has yet to achieve a decisive breakthrough.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the Biden administration has shifted its stance on which weapons it is ready to provide to Ukraine’s military.

The White House initially withheld approval for requests for Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, Howitzer artillery pieces, anti-ship missiles and HIMARS systems, but later gave the green light to them being shipped. Two months ago Biden signed a presidential waiver on the transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine,

The latest aid came as cracks have begun to emerge in Western support for Ukraine. Earlier this week, Kyiv filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization against E.U. members Hungary, Poland and Slovakia for banning imports of Ukrainian agricultural products, a key export for the country’s war battered economy.

Ahead of next year's elections, frontrunners for the Republican presidential candidacy also appear to be cooling in support for the war, and have hinted at a reduction of military aid.