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Ukraine claims Russian missiles destroyed in blast in occupied Crimea

Kyiv doesn't claim responsibility for blast, missiles were being transported by rail

Ukraine missile blast Representational image | Reuters

Ukraine's defence ministry claimed Russian missiles that were being transported by rail got destroyed in a blast in occupied Crimea's Dzhankoi city during the late hours of Monday. However, Ukraine did not claim responsibility for the attack.

Ukraine's military intelligence agency reported that Russian cruise missiles were being transported by train in the occupied and illegally annexed Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula. 

The region's Russian-appointed governor reported an incident in the area of the same Crimean town, Dzhankoi in the northern part of the peninsula, though he did not mention cruise missiles as an attack target. 

The Guardian reported Ihor Ivin, the Russia-installed head of the region, claimed the city was attacked by drones and a 33-year-old man suffered a shrapnel injury from a downed drone. 

A vague statement by the Ukrainian military agency, posted on its website, 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 Guardian quoted Ukraine's main intelligence directorate saying, “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.” The intelligence directorate said the missiles, designed to be launched from surface ships of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, had an operational range of more than 2,500km (1,550 miles) on land and 375km at sea, the publication reported.

In a precursor 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 Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed to recapture all the Ukrainian land Russia now occupies, including Crimea. 

A 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.

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. 

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 embarrassed Russian President Vladimir Putin, who reportedly believed the invasion would be quick and easy. 

(With PTI inputs.)

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