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Ukraine takes credit for missile strikes on Russian military bases in Crimea

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a virtual address to U.S. members of Congress, March 16, 2022. (Video screenshot)
September 11, 2022

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The Ukrainian military has for the first time admitted that it carried out missile strikes that hit Russian military bases in Crimea.

Ukraine carried out the strike that hit Saky air base in Crimea on August 9, according to an article co-written by Ukrainian commander General Valeriy Zaluzhniy and Mykhaylo Zabrodskiy, first deputy chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Defense and Intelligence.

It was published on September 7 by the state-run Ukrinform news agency.

The strike on Saky destroyed at least nine military aircraft, including Su-30SM fighters and Su-24M bombers. The Russian-appointed head of Crimea said at the time that one person was killed. Several buildings on the base that may have stored ammunition were also destroyed.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement at the time that the detonation of aviation ammunition caused the explosions, without clarifying who or what triggered the detonation.

Ukrainian officials have avoided publicly claiming responsibility, but unidentified Ukrainian officials have told U.S. media that their armed forces were responsible for the explosions, and analysts said satellite imagery pointed to a likely attack by Ukrainian forces.

The article hailed as “successful” the efforts of the Ukrainian armed forces in recent weeks to “physically transfer fighting” to the territory of Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014 and has used to stage attacks on Ukraine.

“We are talking about a series of successful missile strikes on the enemy’s Crimean air bases, first of all, on the Saky airfield,” Zaluzhniy and Zabrodskiy said in the article.

They added that the task of the Ukrainian military in 2023 “is to make these feelings sharper, more natural, and quite tangible for the Russians and in other occupied territories.”

Zaluzhniy and Zabrodskiy said that Russian officials and the population were willing to support the war in part because it is a “distant” conflict that doesn’t threaten their lives.

The attack on Crimea was a prime example, they said.

“Thanks to this distance, Russian citizens don’t really painfully grasp the losses, failures, and most importantly, the cost of this war in all its understandings,” they said.

The authors added that Ukraine didn’t so much need quantity as quality weapons from Western allies. If the West would supply weapons with longer ranges, then Ukraine could bring the impact of the war closer to Russia, they said.

The United States has supplied Kyiv with sophisticated long-range missile systems on the condition that Ukraine not use them to hit targets inside Russia.