A drone attack at the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet wounded six people and shut down a festival marking Navy Day in the Crimean peninsula city of Sevastopol, the mayor said Sunday.
“There were no fatalities, six people were injured, two in moderate condition, the rest are in stable condition,” Mayor Mikhail Razvozhaev said on social media.
The Black Sea Fleet’s press service said the drone appeared to be homemade and described the explosive device as “low-power.” Crimean authorities raised the terrorism threat level for the region to “yellow,” the second-highest tier.
Sevastopol is about 100 miles south of the Ukrainian mainland and has been under Russian control since 2014, when the Kremlin illegally annexed Crimea. Russian forces also control much of the mainland coastal area along the Black Sea. There was no immediate information on where the drone came from.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed to take Crimea back from Russia. His top aide said the drone strike was a reflection of Russia’s weak air defenses.
“Did the occupiers admit the helplessness of their air defense system? Or their helplessness in front of the Crimean partisans?” Oleksiy Arestovich said on Telegram.
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►Russian rockets hit a school in Kharkiv and a bus station in Sloviansk, among other strikes. In southern Ukraine, one person was reportedly killed and six injured in shelling in a residential area in Mykolaiv, local officials said.
►Russia’s state-owned natural gas corporation said it has halted shipments to Latvia because of contract violations. Gas giant Gazprom said the shipments were stopped because Latvia broke “terms for extraction of gas.” The statement likely referred to a refusal to meet Russia’s demand for gas payments in rubles.
Wealthy businessman killed in what Ukrainian official calls targeted attack
One of Ukraine’s wealthiest men and his wife were killed in their Mykolaiv home by a Russian missile strike that an Ukrainian official said was carefully targeted.
Oleksiy Vadatursky, who headed a grain production and export business and once was given the “Hero of Ukraine” award for his contributions to the country, died alongside his wife, Raisa, in an early Sunday morning attack, regional Gov. Vitaly Kim said .
Their killing comes just as Ukraine is about to resume exporting grain under a deal with Russia brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.
The southern port city of Mykolaiv came under heavy bombardment overnight, but presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak said Vadatursky, 74, was specifically targeted. Vadatursky’s agribusiness, Nibulon, includes a fleet of ships for sending grain abroad.
It “was not an accident, but a well-thought-out and organized premeditated murder,” Podoliak said. “Vadatursky was one of the largest farmers in the country, a key person in the region and a major employer. That the exact hit of a rocket was not just in a house, but in a specific wing, the bedroom, leaves no doubt about aiming and adjusting the strike.”
Zelenskyy declares mandatory evacuation from Donetsk region
As Russian forces and separatists try to completely take over the Donetsk region, Ukrainian officials are calling for citizens to evacuate from Ukrainian-held parts of the province. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced a mandatory evacuation and urged people to leave the region and to persuade their loved ones still there to go, according to CNN and Reuters.
“The sooner it is done, the more people leave Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill,” he said in his nightly video address Saturday.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk warned that the region will face severe heating problems this winter because of the destruction of gas mains and said people should evacuate before the cold sets in.
New Russian maritime policy targets US, NATO
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday signed a Maritime Doctrine that claims US efforts towards dominance in the world’s oceans and NATO’s mounting activity are major security threats to Russia. The new policy, posted on the Kremlin’s legal information web portal, cites the global US influence on issues related to the use of transportation lanes and energy resources.
The policy calls for developing Russia’s shipbuilding industry in the Far East, in particular for building “large-tonnage vessels” for use in the Arctic as well as advanced aircraft carriers for the navy.
Strategic goals of the policy include raising the Russian navy’s combat capabilities to protect Russia’s national security and its national interests.
Low expectations for the UN conference on nuclear nonproliferation
Nuclear nonproliferation agreements are difficult under the best of circumstances. The current conditions, with Russia waging war in Ukraine and at times reanimating fears of nuclear confrontation, are far from ideal.
That’s what awaits representatives from more than 110 countries as they convene starting Monday at a major UN conference on the landmark Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The gathering was supposed to take place in 2020, on the treaty’s 50th anniversary, but was postponed because of the pandemic.
The four-week meeting aims to generate a consensus on next steps, but expectations are low for a substantial – if any – agreement.
“It is a very, very difficult moment,” said Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, referring to Russia’s aggression and nuclear saber-rattling. “How governments react to the situation is going to shape future nuclear policy.”
Ukraine sees some success repelling Russian forces
Ukrainian forces have likely “successfully repelled small-scale Russian assaults” near Donetsk in the Donbas region, the British Ministry of Defense said. In Kherson, the ministry said, Russian forces have established pontoon bridges to “compensate for the fact that nearby bridges have been damaged in recent strikes.”
A senior US defense official also said this weekend that Ukrainians have been making advances in the Kherson region. “Not large, giant advances, but they are certainly advances against the Russians,” the official told journalists. A senior military official at the briefing added that Russian forces appear to be “ill-prepared” for Ukraine’s counteroffensive there.
Ukraine condemns Russia for latest act of ‘terrorism’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for Russia to be recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism, citing the “deliberate mass murder” of Ukrainian war prisoners via shelling in the separatist eastern region of Donetsk.
Dozens of Ukrainians held as prisoners of war were reportedly killed in a missile strike Friday – an attack for which Russia and Ukraine blame each other. Separatist authorities and Russian officials said at least 53 people died and 75 were injured in Olenivka, a settlement controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. The prisoners were captured after Mariupol fell in May.
“Russia has proven with numerous terrorist attacks that it is the biggest source of terrorism in today’s world,” Zelenskyy said.
Contributing: The Associated Press