Ukrainian drones, missiles target Russian-occupied Crimea

According to a statement from Russia’s Defence Ministry, eight drones were intercepted over the Black Sea close to Crimea’s coast in the late hours of Wednesday night.

Tensions escalated sharply in the long-running Russia-Ukrainian conflict overnight, as a flurry of drone and missile attacks struck near the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.

According to a statement from Russia’s Defence Ministry, eight drones were intercepted over the Black Sea close to Crimea’s coast in the late hours of Wednesday night. The Ministry claimed two Ukrainian naval drones heading towards Crimea were also destroyed in the Black Sea.

The Russian military additionally reported shooting down eight tactical ATACMS missiles over the Sea of Azov near Crimea, which were likely launched from Ukrainian territory.

The incidents mark some of the most serious cross-border strikes of the conflict and underscore Ukraine’s intensifying efforts to regain control of Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014. Faced with over two years of sustained Russian bombardment, Ukraine’s forces have increasingly taken the fight to Russian rear areas and infrastructure.

While Ukrainian officials have not officially confirmed the strikes, they align with Kyiv’s stated goal of undermining Russia’s military capabilities and efforts to disrupt supply lines supporting Moscow’s invasion forces. Few other details were immediately available.

The attacks risk further escalating the bitter conflict as Russia continues its full-scale invasion, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions of Ukrainian civilians. Crimea, prized for its strategic military value on the Black Sea, has been an ongoing flashpoint between the two neighbours since the 2014 annexation.

With Ukraine preparing a long-anticipated counteroffensive to reclaim occupied territories, the flurry of drone and missile strikes striking deep behind Russian lines may preview an uptick in Ukrainian efforts to weaken Russian positions in Crimea and other occupied zones. However, the incidents also raise the spectre of retaliatory Russian strikes in the days ahead.