Kyiv, Ukraine– A Ukrainian attack on a strategic shipyard early Wednesday in Russia-annexed Crimea wounded 24 people, damaged two ships undergoing repairs and caused a fire at the facility, Russian authorities reported.
The attack in the port city of Sevastopol, which serves as the main base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, took place as Moscow launched drones against southern Ukraine’s Odesa region.
The pre-dawn onslaught in Odesa damaged port and civilian infrastructure in the region’s Izmail district — not far from Sevastopol — and wounded seven people, three seriously, the region’s Governor, Oleh Kiper, said. Ukraine‘s air force said it intercepted 32 of 44 Iranian Shahed-type drones launched over the country overnight, most of them directed toward the southern parts of the Odesa region.
The latest exchange of fire came as Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a summit that the U.S. had warned could lead to a deal to supply Moscow’s depleted troops in Ukraine with desperately needed arms and ammunition.
Kim vowed to Putin that Russia would have North Korea’s full support for its “just fight,” and he said the two countries had reached an agreement to deepen their “strategic and tactical cooperation and solidarity in the struggle to defend sovereign rights and security.”
Any arms deal between the countries would violate international sanctions against North Korea, which Russia has supported in the past.
Asked about the potential of such an agreement with Kim after their Wednesday meeting, Putin said Russia “complies with international obligations, but within the framework of the rules there are opportunities for cooperation.” He did not go into detail about any agreement discussed with his North Korean counterpart.
The Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 in an act that most of the world considered illegal, has been a frequent target since Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than 18 months ago.
Last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to do all he can to bring Crimea back under his country’s control, and he has urged international allies to support that effort.
On Monday, Ukraine claimed it recaptured strategic gas and oil drilling platforms in the Black Sea that Russia seized in 2015. Russia had used the platforms to stage weapons and launch helicopters, and Ukraine said retaking them would help it regain Crimea.
Wednesday’s attack on the Sevastopol Shipyard attack appeared to be one of the biggest in recent weeks. Russia’s Defense Ministry said Ukraine launched 10 cruise missiles at the shipyard and three sea drones at Russian ships in the Black Sea. The shipyard is of strategic importance to Russia because vessels in its Black Sea fleet are repaired there.
Seven missiles were shot down, and all the sea drones were destroyed, the Russian military said, but some of the missiles damaged two ships that were being repaired at the shipyard. The Defense Ministry later said both ships would be fully restored and continue to serve.
Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-appointed governor of Sevastopol, said on Telegram that the resulting fire injured 24 people. He posted a photo showing the shipyard in flames with smoke billowing over it.
Ukraine’s RBC-Ukraine news outlet reported, citing unnamed sources in Ukrainian military intelligence, that an amphibious landing ship and a submarine were damaged in the attack. Some Russian messaging app channels made the same claim.
There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials. Kyiv has acknowledged past attacks on Crimea but avoided claiming responsibility for drone attacks on Moscow and other regions of Russia.