Kyiv, Ukraine – A small explosive device carried by a makeshift drone detonated at the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean peninsula on Sunday, injuring six people and prompting the cancellation of ceremonies honoring the Russian Navy, authorities announced.
Meanwhile, one of Ukraine’s richest men, a grain merchant, was killed in what Ukrainian authorities said was a carefully targeted Russian missile strike at his home.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion of the drone in a courtyard of the naval headquarters in the city of Sevastopol. But the seemingly improvised and small-scale nature of the attack raised the possibility that it was the work of Ukrainian insurgents trying to drive out Russian forces.
A Russian lawmaker from Crimea, Olga Kovitidi, told Russian news agency RIA-Novosti that the drone was launched from Sevastopol itself. She said the incident was being treated as an act of terrorism, the news agency said.
Authorities in Crimea have raised the terror threat level for the region to “yellow”, the second highest level.
Sevastopol, which was seized along with the rest of Crimea from Ukraine by Russia in 2014, lies about 170 kilometers (100 miles) south of the Ukrainian mainland. Russian forces control much of the continent along the Black Sea.
The Black Sea Fleet press service said the drone appeared to be homemade. He described the explosive device as “low-powered”. Sevastopol Mayor Mikhail Razvozhaev said six people were injured. Russian Navy Day celebrations have been canceled in the city.
The Ukrainian Navy and an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the reported drone attack underscored weak Russian air defenses.
“Have the occupiers admitted the impotence of their air defense system? Or their impotence in the face of the Crimean partisans? said Oleksiy Arestovich on Telegram.
If such an attack is possible by Ukraine, he said, “the destruction of the Crimean Bridge in such situations no longer seems unrealistic” – a reference to the span that Russia has built to connect its continent to Crimea after annexation.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, the mayor of the main port city of Mykolaiv, Vitaliy Kim, said the shelling had killed one of Ukraine’s richest men, Oleksiy Vadatursky, and his wife, Raisa. Vadatursky ran a grain production and export business.
Another presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said Vadatursky was specifically targeted.
It “was not an accident, but a well thought out and organized premeditated murder. just in a house, but in a specific wing, the bedroom, leaves no doubt about aiming and setting the strike,” he said.
Vadatursky’s agro-industry Nibulon includes a fleet of ships for sending grain abroad.
In the Sumy region of northern Ukraine, near the Russian border, shelling killed one person, the regional administration said. And three people have died in attacks over the past day in the Donetsk region, which is partly under the control of Russian-backed separatist forces, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.
Podolyak said on Twitter that footage of the prison where at least 53 Ukrainian POWs were heldFriday said the blast came from inside the Olenivka building, which is under Russian control.
Russian officials claimed the building was attacked by Ukraine in an effort to silence prisoners of war who could give information about Ukrainian military operations. Ukraine blamed Russia for the explosion.
Satellite photos taken before and after show that a small square building in the middle of the prison complex has been demolished, its roof shattered.
Podolyak said these images and the lack of damage to adjacent structures showed the building had not been attacked from the air or artillery. He argued that the evidence was consistent with a thermobaric bomb, a powerful device sometimes called a vacuum bomb, triggered indoors.
The International Red Cross has asked to go to the prison immediately to ensure that the dozens of wounded POWs receive proper treatment, but said on Sunday its request had not yet been granted. He said denying access to the Red Cross would violate the Geneva Convention on the rights of prisoners of war.