For weeks, Ukraine has been intensifying its targeting of the Crimean Peninsula and the Russian fleet, and perhaps the latest of these targeting is the attack it launched two days ago on the fleet command headquarters in the coastal city of Sevastopol.
The attack occurred during a meeting of the Russian Navy leadership and led to the killing of at least 9 people, including generals, according to the head of Ukrainian intelligence, Kyrylo budanov.
Footage circulated on social media showed thick smoke rising from the fleet’s general headquarters, located in the coastal city of Sevastopol in Crimea.
What is the importance of the Black Sea Fleet, and why does Kiev insist on targeting it?
This fleet operates in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Mediterranean Sea, and is stationed in the port of Sevastopol, which is one of the command centers for Russian operations against Ukraine.
It was founded by the Russian Prince Potemkin in 1783, and after the Bolshevik Revolution, then control over it was transferred to the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, before it became part of the Soviet Navy in 1922 with the founding of the Soviet Union.
In 1991, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fleet was divided with Ukraine, and Russia obtained ownership of most of its ships in 1997.
Its headquarters and official fleet facilities are located in the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula, while the sequel is stationed in various locations on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, including the Rostov region and the Crimean Peninsula.
This general headquarters includes 6 guided missile corvettes, a multi-role cruiser, seven diesel attack submarines, and 7 landing ships, in addition to high-speed landing craft, corvettes, naval minesweepers, and anti-sabotage boats.
Russia has taken steps to enhance it, including plans to create a new helicopter attack ship as the main ship, but the completion dates for these projects are still unclear despite the exact configuration of the new ships.
While Ukraine insists on targeting it in order to disrupt Russian supply lines and put an end to Russian military control over the Black Sea, especially after repeated Ukrainian successes revealed the difficulties faced by Russian air defenses in this matter.
In the midst of the counterattack which the Ukrainian forces launched to regain its territory, it’s also trying to confuse the Russian defense by attacking its supply lines and command centers away from the front line.
Ukraine has long launched attacks on the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized and annexed in 2014.
Friday’s attack wasn’t the first, as the fleet headquarters was targeted on July 31, 2022, during which 6 people were injured as a result of an explosive drone strike on the headquarters building, which was established in the classical style and is located in the center of Sevastopol near parks and museums that are visited by many people.
In April 2022, it was also subjected to a painful blow after the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the cruiser Moskva, the command ship of the extremely important Russian Black Sea Fleet, sank after being damaged during the attack on Ukraine.
While Moscow stresses that it will never abandon the peninsula, Kiev believes that attacks on Russian army targets in the occupied territories, including Crimea, are legitimate.