Russian cruise missiles destroyed in drone strike on train in Crimea
Ukraine's defence ministry said on Monday that an explosion in Dzhankoi in the north of the Crimean peninsula destroyed Russian cruise missiles intended for use by the Kremlin's Black Sea fleet.
It said the missiles, designed to be launched from surface ships, had an operational range of more than 2,500km (1,550 miles) on land and 375km at sea.
"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 ministry's main intelligence directorate said in social media posts.
Ihor Ivin, the Russian-installed head of the Dzhankoi administration, was quoted as saying the city had come under attack from drones and a 33-year-old man suffered a shrapnel injury from a downed drone. He was hospitalised and expected to survive.
Tass quoted Mr Ivin as saying on Krym-24 TV that a house, school and grocery store caught fire, and the power grid sustained damage.
Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to Ukraine's interior minister, tweeted a video that he claimed was an explosion in Dzhankoi:
Russian cruise missiles "Kalibr NK" were destroyed in Dzhankoi, Crimea, during their transportation by rail - @DI_Ukraine
It is reported that this video is from Dzhankoi. The voice says it's the train station area. pic.twitter.com/9UXMe2aKNR
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) March 20, 2023
Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to the Russia-installed head of Crimea, said the drone attack was aimed at civilian targets.
"All the drones targeted civilian sites. One was hit over the Dzhankoi technical school and came down between the instruction area and a student residence," he said on his Telegram channel.
"There are no military sites nearby. The others were downed in residential areas. In addition to explosives, each one carried shrapnel."
None of the reports could be independently verified.
A Russian military air base is located near Dzhankoi, with Ukrainian officials long saying that the city and the surrounding areas have been turned into the largest Moscow military base in Crimea.
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 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 demilitarisation 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.
Volodymr Zelensky 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.
Mr 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 defences.