Russian commanders ‘killed or badly injured’ in missile strike on military meeting

The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov, said the Storm Shadow missile strike on Friday (local time) in Sevastopol was timed to coincide with a meeting of senior Russian military leaders.

A satellite photo shows smoke billowing from a headquarters building for the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea on Friday.Credit: Planet Labs via AP

Budanov said at least nine soldiers or sailors had been killed and 16 injured. He said that Alexander Romanchuk, a Russian general commanding forces along the key southeastern front line, was “in a very serious condition” following the attack.

“The number of injured regular servicemen who are not employees of the headquarters is still being determined. These are military personnel who are on duty, security, and so on,” he said.

Budanov’s claim couldn’t be independently verified, and he didn’t comment on whether Western-made missiles were used in the attack. The Russian Defence Ministry initially said that the strike killed one service member at the Black Sea Fleet headquarters, but later issued a statement that he was missing.

Ukraine said its airforce conducted 12 strikes on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters, targeting areas where personnel, military equipment and weapons were concentrated. It said that two anti-aircraft missile systems and four Russian artillery units were hit.

An image taken from UGC video shows smoke rising from the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea, Friday

An image taken from UGC video shows smoke rising from the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea, FridayCredit: AP

A second attack was launched Saturday morning (local time) on Sevastopol on the occupied Crimean Peninsula, a Russian-installed official said.

Crimea has served as the key hub supporting Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Sevastopol, the main base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet since the 19th century, has had particular importance for navy operations since the start of the war.

Ukraine has increasingly targeted naval facilities in Crimea in recent weeks while the brunt of its summer counteroffensive makes slow gains in the east and south of Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War said. Military experts say it is essential for Ukraine to keep up its attacks on targets in Crimea to degrade Russian morale and weaken its military.

In other developments, US President Joe Biden told his Ukrainian counterpart at their White House meeting Thursday that the US would give Ukraine a version of the longer-range ATACMS ballistic missiles, without specifying how many or when they would be delivered, according to two US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to publicly discuss the matter before an official announcement.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and other Ukrainian leaders have long pushed the US and other Western allies to provide longer-distance weapons that would enable Kyiv to ramp up its strikes behind Russian lines while themselves staying out of firing range.

The US has balked so far, worried that Kyiv could use the weapons to hit deep into Russian territory and escalate the conflict. The Army Tactical Missile System, known as ATACMS, could give Ukraine the ability to strike Russian targets from as far away as about 300 kilometres, but the US also has other variants of the missile that have a shorter range.

Elsewhere, Ukraine’s military said that Russia launched 15 Iranian-made Shahed drones at the front-line Zaporizhzhia region in the southeast, as well as Dnipropetrovsk province farther north. It claimed to have destroyed 14 of the drones.

Separately, Zaporizhzhia regional Governor Yuri Malashko said that Russia over the previous day carried out 86 strikes on 27 settlements in the province, many of them lying only a few kilometres from the fighting. Malashko said that an 82-year-old civilian was killed by artillery fire.


In the neighbouring Kherson region, Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said that a 65-year-old woman was killed on Saturday as a Russian shell struck her yard, while a 78-year-old man was hospitalised with life-threatening injuries after a Russian drone dropped explosives.

Prokudin said earlier in a separate statement that at least one person died and three other people were wounded over the previous day because of Russian shelling. Russia fired 25 shells targeting the city of Kherson, which lies along the Dneiper River that marks the contact line between the warring sides, Prokudin said.

Residential quarters were hit, including medical and education institutions, government-built stations that serve food and drinks, as well as critical infrastructure facilities and a penitentiary, he added.

In the eastern Donetsk region, where heavy fighting is ongoing on the outskirts of Bakhmut, Russian shelling killed one civilian and wounded another on Friday and overnight, local Governor Ihor Moroz reported.


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