Ukrainian missile hits Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters

Smoke rising from a seaport in the daytime.
In an image taken from video, smoke rises from the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol in occupied Crimea.
(Crimean Telegram channel)

Ukraine struck the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea fleet in a missile attack Friday that left a serviceman missing and the main building smoldering, according to officials on both sides of the conflict and images from the scene in occupied Crimea.

The Russian Defense Ministry initially said one service member was killed but then issued a subsequent statement saying he was missing after the attack in the port city of Sevastopol.

The Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 in an act that most of the world considered illegal, has been a frequent target since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly 19 months ago.


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

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 Thursday in its daily assessment of the conflict. Military experts say it is essential for Ukraine to keep up its long-range attacks on Russian military assets in Crimea to degrade morale and weaken its enemy.

The attack came a day after Russia pounded cities across Ukraine with missiles and artillery strikes, killing at least five people as President Volodymyr Zelensky met with President Biden and congressional leaders in Washington, where an additional $24-billion aid package for Kyiv was under consideration. Zelensky was in Canada on Friday to address its Parliament in his ongoing effort to bolster support from Western allies.

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Previous attacks in Crimea resulted in several civilian deaths, but Russian officials haven’t yet reported any military personnel killed. Six people were reported wounded following a July 2022 attack on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters, but it wasn’t clear whether they were civilians or service personnel.

The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said no one was injured outside the burning headquarters building, but there was no information on other casualties. Firefighters battled the blaze, and more emergency forces were being brought in, an indication that the fire could be massive.


The Ukrainian military claimed responsibility for the attack, which it proclaimed a success.

“We promised that ‘There will be more,’” Lt. Gen. Mykola Oleschuk, an air force commander, said in a social media post that thanked pilots and showed video of air sirens blazing and smoke rising from the building.

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The Russian Defense Ministry said five missiles were shot down by Russian air defense systems responding to the attack on Sevastopol. It was not immediately clear if the headquarters was hit in a direct strike or by debris from an intercepted missile.

Sevastopol residents said they heard explosions in the skies and saw smoke, Russian news outlets reported, and images showed gray plumes over the seafront. The Associated Press could not immediately verify the videos.

A stream of ambulances was arriving at the fleet’s headquarters, and shrapnel was scattered hundreds of yards around, Russian state news agency Tass reported.

Oleg Kryuchkov, an official with the Crimean administration, said one cruise missile downed near Bakhchysarai, about 19 miles inland, sparked a grass fire.

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Razvozhayev said civilian infrastructure wasn’t damaged but did not mention the impact on the fleet headquarters.

He initially warned Sevastopol residents that another attack was possible and urged them not to leave buildings or go to the city center. He later said there was no longer any airstrike danger but reiterated calls not to go to the central part of the city, saying roads were closed and unspecified “special efforts” were underway.

The attack Friday is one of several launched by Ukraine recently in the Crimea area.

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The Institute for the Study of War said satellite imagery this week showed that Ukrainian strikes had significantly damaged a communications command center in Verkhnosadove, just outside Sevastopol.

Russian-installed authorities in Sevastopol accused Ukraine on Sept. 13 of carrying out the biggest attack in Crimea in weeks, one on a strategic shipyard that damaged two ships undergoing repairs and caused a fire at the facility.

Two days earlier, Ukraine claimed to have recaptured strategic gas and oil drilling platforms in the Black Sea that Russia seized in 2015. Russia had used the platforms for electronic warfare equipment and to launch helicopters, and Ukraine said getting control of them would help it regain Crimea.

In other developments, ongoing Russian shelling in the southern Kherson region of Ukraine killed one man and injured another, said regional Gov. Oleksandr Prokudin.

“Kherson has been restless since the morning,” he said on Telegram.

Russian shelling sparked fires in a residential building and a garage.

In Kharkiv, regional Gov. Oleh Sinegubov said more than 14 settlements came under attack. A house was damaged and a fire broke out in Vovchansk, in Chuguyiv district. There were no casualties, he said.