The Russian-installed authorities in occupied Crimea said Ukrainian forces targeted the peninsula with another air attack on Saturday, the second in two days, as Kyiv increasingly takes aim at the region in an effort to disrupt Moscow’s military operations.
Mikhail Razvozhayev, the governor of Sevastopol, Crimea’s largest city and the home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, said that air defenses had been activated in the area and that debris from a downed rocket fell in the bay. The local authorities issued several warnings about possible air assaults, urging residents to stay calm and seek shelter.
Saturday’s attack, which was not immediately confirmed by Ukraine’s military, came a day after Kyiv’s forces launched a missile strike that damaged the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters. Russia’s defense ministry said that a serviceman was missing after that attack.
The back-to-back assaults on Crimea, which the Kremlin illegally annexed in 2014, are part of a Ukrainian campaign to hit deep behind Russian lines in an effort to sever Moscow’s battlefield supply lines and undermine its ability to hit Ukrainian territory from afar. In recent weeks, Ukraine has sharply accelerated the pace of strikes on the peninsula, hitting air defense systems, a submarine and a command post.
Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion last year, Moscow has used Crimea to stockpile fuel and ammunition to be funneled to the battlefields in southern Ukraine, where Kyiv is currently trying to break through Russian defensive lines. Ships from the Black Sea Fleet also have fired hundreds of missiles at Ukraine.
“A lot of Ukrainian cities and towns are within reach from Crimea,” Samuel Bendett, a Russian weapons analyst at the Center for Naval Analysis, said in an interview. “Controlling Crimea is essential if Russia wants to maintain its war effort and to keep Ukraine off balance and to maintain its positions in the territories it already captured.”
It was not immediately clear whether Saturday’s attack had hit any strategic targets. Mr. Razvozhayev said the debris had fallen near the pier in the Sukharnaya Bay, part of the larger Sevastopol Bay, which houses many military vessels and submarines. The Russian state news agency Tass reported that emergency services had left for the scene and that passenger ship traffic had been suspended.