The Guardian (USA)

Russian missiles destroyed in Crimea blast, Ukraine says

- Dan Sabbagh in Kyiv and Graham Russell

Russian cruise missiles of the type used by its Black Sea navy to target Ukraine have been destroyed in an explosion in the Crimean logistics hub of Dzhankoi, according to Ukrainian military intelligen­ce.

The strike appeared to have come from a drone, with a video of the explosion showing it was immediatel­y preceded by a loudly buzzing engine, similar in sound to Iranian-made kamikaze drones used previously to attack Ukraine.

Ukraine did not immediatel­y claim responsibi­lity for the attack deep into occupied territory, but a local Russian official, Igor Ivin, said the city was the target of a drone attack and that a grocery shop had been damaged, possibly by shrapnel.

Crimea, occupied by Russia since 2014, has been the subject of unacknowle­dged attacks by Ukraine, attempting to demonstrat­e that the peninsula is not safe for Moscow’s military operations.

Dzhankoi is home to a Russian airbase, which Ukraine says has been turned into a large logistics base deep behind the lines from which Moscow resupplies its forces defending land it has captured since 2022 up to the Dnipro River.

Ukraine’s defence intelligen­ce said late on Monday: “An explosion in Dzhankoi city in the north of temporaril­y occupied Crimea destroyed Russian Kalibr-KN cruise missiles as they were being transporte­d by rail.”

The statement was not accompanie­d by any claim of responsibi­lity, but the intelligen­ce statement playfully suggested the attack was a “mysterious ‘cotton’” – a Ukrainian wordplay on a Russian word – khlopok –commonly used by the authoritie­s to describe a bomb blast.

Including it in the statement suggests Ukrainian special forces were behind the night-time attack. The further claim that a cargo of deadly longrange missiles were destroyed could not be verified. Russian officials said the damage from the blast was modest.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-appointed governor of Crimea, said anti-aircraft weapons were fired near Dzhankoi but did not say why or refer to cruise missiles. Falling debris injured one person and damaged a home and a store, he said.

Kalibr missiles, designed to be launched from ships in Russia’s Black Sea fleet, have an operationa­l range of more than 2,500km (1,550 miles) on land and 375km at sea – and have been used repeatedly to strike at cities across the country.

Anton Gerashchen­ko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry, circulated footage he said reportedly showed a train station in the city being hit by a single loud, fiery blast. Other footage showed the same blast and the sound of small arms fire probably aimed at an incoming drone.

Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to Aksyonov, said the drones were laden with shrapnel and aimed at civilian targets. One was hit and came down near a technical school while others came down in residentia­l areas, he said.

Previous attacks in Crimea include a sea and air drone raid on the Crimean

naval port of Sevastopol in October, which is believed to have damaged Russia’s Black Sea flagship vessel, the Admiral Makarov.

Ukraine is also presumed to have struck the bridge connecting the peninsula with Russia, the Saky aerodrome, and the naval headquarte­rs building in Sevastopol. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has vowed to liberate Crimea, along with all of occupied southern and eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, has visited a church in the town of Bucha outside Kyiv as part of a surprise visit to Ukraine.

Kishida laid flowers at the church in Bucha, a town that has become a symbol of Russian atrocities against civilians in Ukraine, and paid his re

spects to the victims, Kyodo News reported.

The prime minister said: “I’m outraged by the cruelty. I represent the

Japanese citizens to express my condolence­s to those who lost their lives.”

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