Ukraine launched a powerful missile strike against the main headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on Friday (September 22).
The fleet’s principal base is situated in the city of Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea.
Just last week, Russian-installed authorities in Sevastopol accused Ukraine of attacking a strategically important shipyard, causing damage to a ship and submarine under repair in dry docks.
The Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 has regularly been a focus point for Ukrainian operations.
The Sevastopol Naval headquarters attack is one of the most dramatic episodes in recent weeks.
Colonel Philip Ingram, an ex-British Army intelligence officer says politically, this latest operation represents a substantial setback for Vladimir Putin.
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Since Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised a full-scale invasion of Ukraine over 18 months ago, the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 in an operation largely seen as unlawful by the majority of the international community, has regularly been a focus point. The shipyard attack is one of the most dramatic episodes in recent weeks.”
Mr Ingram told the Express: “Geopolitically the degradation of the Russian Black Sea fleet and forcing the remainder to stick closer to Russia territorial waters allows safe movement of civilian shipping in the area especially any taking grain from Ukrainian Ports.
“It also sends a clear geopolitical message that Russia, with the biggest naval capability in the Black Sea, cant dictate what happens there and is vulnerable. Politically for Putin in Moscow this is a huge blow for him and he will have real difficulty keeping his losses quiet.”
Mr Ingram, who served in the British Army for over 25 years, added the incident also added to existing tensions within Russia’s military command structure, especially following the Wagner attempted coup.
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He told the Express: “It goes beyond embarrassment and I expect [Putin] is more than furious.
“This will cause additional tensions in the command structure on top of those caused after the Wagner attempted Coup. It does not bode well for a top-down military command structure.”
The Russian government-appointed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said on Friday that there were no injuries in the strike on the naval headquarters.
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He did not, however, disclose any information about other possible casualties.
While Ukrainian officials have claimed credit for a number of recent strikes in Crimea, they have yet to acknowledge or deny their involvement in the Friday missile firing at Sevastopol.
The country’s air force commander tweeted a video of blaring air sirens and smoke rising from the structure, which appears to be an acknowledgement of Ukraine’s role in the attack.
Lt. Gen. Mykola Oleschuk said: “We promised that ‘there will be more.”
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