Ukraine launches massive drone attack on Crimea as Kyiv hits back at Russia amid Putin's offensive

A satellite image shows what appears to be a damaged MiG29 fighter following an attack at Belbek Airbase in Crimea  (Maxar via REUTERS)
A satellite image shows what appears to be a damaged MiG29 fighter following an attack at Belbek Airbase in Crimea (Maxar via REUTERS)

A massive Ukrainian drone attack on Crimea caused power outages in Sevastopol and ignited a refinery in southern Russia, according to Russian authorities.

The drone strikes on Friday morning marked Kyiv’s effort to retaliate amid Moscow’s offensive in northeastern Ukraine, increasing pressure on the outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainian forces who are awaiting delayed deliveries of crucial weapons and ammunition from Western allies.

Ukraine has not commented on the attack or claimed responsibility for it.

The Russian Defence Ministry said that air defences downed 51 Ukrainian drones over Crimea, another 44 over the Krasnodar region, and six over the Belgorod region. It also claimed that Russian warplanes and patrol boats destroyed six sea drones in the Black Sea.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, the governor of Sevastopol, the main base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, said the drone attack damaged the city’s power plant.

He added that it could take a day to fully restore energy supplies and warned residents that power would be cut to parts of the city.

“Communal services are doing their best to restore the power system as quickly as possible,” he said in astatement.

Razvozhayev also announced the temporary closure of schools in the city.

Earlier Ukrainian attacks had damaged aircraft and a fuel storage facility at Belbek air base near Sevastopol, as shown in satellite images released by Maxar Technologies.

In the Krasnodar region, authorities reported that a drone attack early Friday caused a fire at an oil refinery in Tuapse, which was later contained. There were no casualties.

Ukraine has repeatedly targeted refineries and other energy facilities deep inside Russia, inflicting significant damage.

Ukrainian drones also attacked Novorossiysk, a major Black Sea port. The governor of the Krasnodar region, Veniamin Kondratyev, said that fragments of downed drones caused several fires, but there were no casualties.

Belgorov Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said that a Ukrainian drone struck a vehicle, killing a woman and her 4-year-old child. Another attack ignited a fuel tank at a gas station in the region, he added.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops are fighting to halt Russian advances in the northeastern Kharkiv region, which began late last week.

The town of Vovchansk, just 5 kilometres (3 miles) from the Russian border, has become a hotspot in recent days.

Ukrainian authorities have evacuated around 8,000 civilians from the town. The Russian army’s usualtactic is to reduce towns and villages to ruins with aerial strikes before its units move in.

Russia has also been testing defences at various points along the roughly 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) front line stretching from north to south through eastern Ukraine.

This line has barely changed over the past 18 months, resulting in a war of attrition. Recent Russian attacks have targeted the eastern Donetsk region, as well as the Chernihiv and Sumy regions in the north and the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

The apparent aim is to stretch Ukraine's depleted resources and exploit any weaknesses.