Ukraine Drones Strikes Russian Train transporting Kalibr missiles in Crimea
An overnight attack destroyed a shipment of Russian cruise missiles on the occupied Crimean Peninsula, Kyiv’s military agency has claimed.
Footage posted to social channels showed a large fireball lighting up the sky above the town of Dzhankoi in what was reportedly an attack by drones on a train transporting Russian Kalibr missiles to Vladimir Putin’s fleet in the Black Sea.
Ukraine’s military intelligence agency reported what would be the latest in a series of brazen attacks on Russian military assets deep in Russian controlled territory, but did not directly claim responsibility.
The region’s Russian-appointed governor reported an incident in the area of the same Crimean town in the northern part of the peninsula, though he did not mention cruise missiles as an attack target.
Dzhankoi is a key transport hub in Crimea, with two major railways and European highways passing through the city, and is also home to the Dzhankoi air base of the Russian Navy. None of the reports of the attack could be independently verified.
A vague statement by the Ukrainian military agency, posted on its website on Monday, said multiple Kalibr cruise missiles were destroyed by an explosion, without explicitly saying Ukraine was responsible or what weapon had been used.
It said the missiles were being carried by rail and were destined for submarine launch.
The agency implied the Kyiv government was responsible by saying the explosion destroying the missiles continues ‘the process of Russia’s demilitarisation and prepares the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea for de-occupation’.
‘An explosion in Dzhankoi city in the north of temporarily occupied Crimea destroyed Russian Kalibr-KN cruise missiles as they were being transported by rail,’ it said.
The statement on social media said the missiles, designed to be launched from surface ships in Russia’s Black Sea fleet, had an operational range of more than 1,550 miles on land and 233 miles at sea.
Ihor Ivin, the Russian-installed head of the Dzhankoi administration, was quoted as saying the city had come under attack from drones and a 33-year-old man suffered a shrapnel injury from a downed drone.
He was taken to hospital and expected to survive.
TASS quoted Ivin as saying on Krym-24 TV that a house, school and grocery store caught fire, and the power grid sustained damage.
Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to the Russia-installed head of Crimea, said the drone attack was aimed at civilian targets.
‘All the drones targeted civilian sites. One was hit over the Dzhankoi technical school and came down between the instruction area and a student residence,’ he said on his Telegram channel.
‘There are no military sites nearby. The others were downed in residential areas. In addition to explosives, each one carried shrapnel.’
Pictures circulating online showed pieces of a destroyed drone – purportedly used in Monday night’s attack – scattered across the ground.
Reporting Kryuchkov’s comments, Reuters news agency said it was not able to independently verify neither the Ukrainian nor the Russian reports.
A Russian military air base is located near Dzhankoi, with Ukrainian officials long saying that the city and the surrounding areas have been turned into the largest Moscow military base in Crimea.
In a pre-cursor to last year’s full invasion of Ukraine, Russia in 2014 seized Crimea, then annexed the peninsula in a move that many countries condemned as illegal.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky has vowed to re-capture all the Ukrainian land Russia now occupies, including Crimea.
Another possible indication of a Ukrainian attack came from the Russian-appointed governor of Crimea, Sergei Aksenov.
He said on social media that anti-aircraft weapons were fired in the vicinity of Dzhankoi, where Ukraine’s intelligence agency said the cruise missiles were destroyed.
Mr Aksenov said falling debris injured one person and damaged a home and a store. His report did not mention that cruise missiles were hit, specify why the anti-aircraft weapons were fired or whether the injury and damage were caused by debris from the anti-aircraft weapons or from an object that was shot down.
Unconfirmed social media reports claimed Russia’s anti-aircraft defences shot down drones.
Throughout the current war, reports have surfaced of attacks on Russian military bases, assassinations and other targets in Crimea, with Ukraine rarely, if ever, explicitly claiming responsibility but welcoming such incidents.
Last August, missiles destroyed several planes at an air base on the peninsula’s south west coast and Ukrainian authorities later claimed responsibility for the attack.
And on October 8, an explosion badly damaged a stretch of the Crimean/Kerch Bridge, a huge bridge built by Russia to connect Crimea to its mainland.
These incidents in Crimea and other areas of Russia far from the war’s front lines have exposed major weaknesses in Russia’s defences and shown Ukraine to have previously unknown weapon capabilities. They have also embarrassed Vladimir Putin, who reportedly believed the invasion would be quick and easy.
The blasts came after Putin visited Crimea over the weekend, his first to the peninsula since he sent troops to Ukraine on February 24 last year.
The Kalibr weapons are a family of cruise missiles that can be launched from ships, submarines and from the air, and are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
There have been several reports of their use by Russia during its invasion of Ukraine.