In its most aggressive drone assault in two months, Ukraine targeted the Crimean Sevastopol naval port, which Russia has annexed. A video captured a kamikaze sea drone’s strike on the city in the early hours of July 16, nearing 100 yards and nearly causing massive destruction.
The attack reportedly employed two drones, while a separate squadron of 10 unmanned aerial drones battered the city, home to Putin’s Black Sea Fleet. Russia has asserted that it thwarted the attacks, claiming to have shot two aerial drones out of the sky and neutralized five others through electronic warfare jamming.
Sevastopol’s strategically significant warm water port is a launch pad for Russia’s ingress into the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Two of the drones targeted anti-aircraft installations and a Balaklava power station.
The heavy machine gunfire allegedly obliterated the drones from the crew of a warship stationed in Sevastopol. Mikhail Razovhayev, the Sevastopol governor and Putin ally, stated, “No objects, either in the city or the water area, were damaged,” adding that there were over ten drone attacks.
Ukraine has not yet commented on the assault on Sevastopol. Similar drone attacks on the city from Ukraine were noted in late April. At the time, Razvozhayev claimed that the fleet was successfully fending off the surface drone attacks. He alleged that one drone was ‘neutralized by the anti-submarine/sabotage defense forces’ while another self-detonated.
The Russian sources refuted any harm to Putin’s Black Sea Fleet or infrastructures. Despite Russia’s claim of annexing Sevastopol and the rest of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, the international community recognizes it as part of Ukraine.
President Joe Biden has contemplated supplying Ukraine with longer-range missiles following his contentious decision to send cluster munitions.
However, the administration has exercised caution in sending Kyiv the (ATACMS) known as the Army Tactical Missile System, as it can reach up to 200 miles, which implies it could be used to attack Crimea or Russia from Ukraine.
In 1783, Russia seized control of the Crimean Khanate, a Tatar state occupying the peninsula, and a year later established the city of Sevastopol as a naval base and stronghold. By 1787, a commercial port was launched in the city. Sevastopol remains strategically significant as Russia’s sole warm water base, facilitating year-round naval operations.
When Ukraine gained independence from the collapsed USSR in 1991, Sevastopol emerged as the primary naval base for the Ukrainian navy, which led to tensions with Russia. These conflicts were resolved in 1997 through an agreement that facilitated the creation of separate fleets and shared bases between Russia and Ukraine.
However, in 2014, Russia nullified the Partition Treaty and annexed Crimea.