Explosions Rock Russian Naval Facilities in Crimea

The authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea said on Wednesday morning that Ukrainian forces had attacked Russian naval facilities there, after explosions were reported overnight that injured dozens of people.

Fires were still raging at the Sevmorzavod shipyard in the city of Sevastopol, and at least 24 people were injured, said Mikhail Razvozhayev, the top official of the local government installed by Russia. The initial explosions, and sounds of air defenses, were first reported at about 2 a.m.

Earlier, Mr. Razvozhayev said that missiles fired by Ukraine had struck a “non-civilian facility.” There was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

The conflict on the Black Sea, where Crimea is located, has escalated in the past few months, creating another battlefront in the nearly 19-month old war in Ukraine. Ukraine has increasingly targeted Russian military operations, including bases, naval facilities and ammunition depots, on the Crimean peninsula, which Russia invaded in 2014 and illegally annexed. And Moscow has ramped up attacks on Ukrainian ports, grain facilities and other civilian infrastructure since it backed out of a deal to allow Ukraine to ship grain through the Black Sea.

Crimea is connected to Russia by bridges and is home to Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet. It provides a vital link in the Russian military’s supply chain supporting tens of thousands of soldiers now occupying a vast swath of southern Ukraine.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has viewed the territory as a prized possession, and its annexation as a move that has righted a historical wrong after it became part of Ukraine, not Russia, with the breakup of the Soviet Union. Since the annexation, Russia has established military operations there that became part of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

An image taken from a video released in April by Sevastopol’s Russian-installed governor, purportedly showing an oil depot on fire. He blamed it on a drone strike.Credit…Governor of Sevastopol Telegram channel/EPA, via Shutterstock

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has said that military facilities in Crimea are legitimate targets. Ukraine’s military forces have expanded their attacks deep into Russia, as far as Moscow, nearly 800 kilometers from the front line.

Despite the increase in Ukrainian attacks on Crimea, Russian officials have downplayed the strikes, suggesting that life has gone on as normal on the peninsula. But Ukraine has targeted the region with drones, missiles and sabotage operations. Some of the bigger and more brazen attacks have included the destruction of key bridges that are used by Russian forces to transport weapons and troops.

And in early August, Ukraine used a maritime drone to strike a Russian warship, one of the most serious attacks on Moscow’s navy. The Ukrainian operation demonstrated the escalating conflict at sea and the growing range and capability of Ukraine’s uncrewed vehicles.

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