Fresh explosions struck Sevastopol and smoke was seen rising from a prominent landmark just kilometres away from the Crimean city as Ukrainian forces announced they were carrying out a joint intelligence operation in the region illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.
Pro-Russian Telegram channel ChP Sevastopol reported explosions in the area of Cape Fiolent late on Sunday night, while another Telegram channel reporting on Crimea shared visuals of an explosion and smoke arising from the same area.
The location, on the Crimean peninsula’s southern coast about 16km away from Sevastopol, has a marine radio engineering unit and a radio engineering station with a dozen radar antennas, an unnamed intelligence source told Ukraine’s Suspilne public broadcaster.
The war-hit nation’s intelligence agency said it carried out a joint operation of its Defence Intelligence (DIU) and the Ukrainian navy.
Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Russia-installed governor of Sevastopol, however, claimed everything was calm in the city which houses Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
He said three Ukrainian drones were seen in the area, but were brought down by Russia’s air defences. The official said no damage was done.
He said that if people saw smoke in the South Bay area, it was due to a standard harmless aerosol camouflage being used by the Black Sea fleet. “Yes, the smell is unpleasant, but it is absolutely safe. Everything is calm in the city,” the Russia-installed official said.
“Our enemies today will try with all their might to pass it off as a ‘victory’,” he said on his Telegram channel.
At least three Ukrainian drones were downed over southwestern Crimea on Sunday evening, according to the Russian defence ministry.
It claimed Russian air defence systems destroyed one drone at about 9.30pm Moscow time, an hour after it said its forces downed another two Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles in the same area.
Debris from the downed third drone fell over farmland and no damage was done, their governor Razvozhayev said.
This comes just five days after Ukraine carried out what was said to be its largest attack yet on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea fleet since the start of Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
The attack on the Sevastopol shipyard in Russian-annexed Crimea wounded 24 people and set ablaze two ships that were under repair, according to Russian authorities.
The Sevastopol shipyard attack is one of the biggest in recent weeks, even though the Crimean peninsula, illegally annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014, has been a frequent target in the 18-month old war.
Russia’s defence ministry said Ukraine launched 10 cruise missiles at the shipyard and three sea drones at Russian ships in the Black Sea.
Seven missiles were shot down and all the sea drones have been destroyed, the military said, but some of the missiles damaged two ships that were being repaired in the shipyard.
While Ukrainian officials have not confirmed the means of the strike, military sources said the attack used Storm Shadow missiles, which were delivered to Kyiv by the UK earlier this year.