KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s military intelligence agency reported what appeared to be a brazen attack late Monday on Russian cruise missiles 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.
None of the reports could be independently verified.
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 agency implied the Kyiv government was responsible by saying the explosion destroying the missiles continues “the process of Russia’s demilitarization and prepares the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea for de-occupation.”
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 Zelenskyy has vowed to re-capture 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 defenses 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 defenses, and embarrassed Russian President Vladimir Putin, who reportedly believed the invasion would be quick and easy.