Chris Lange, FISM News
Russian authorities claimed Saturday that their forces shot down Ukrainian drones in Crimea, including one above Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol. Crimea’s Russian-installed governor’s office also reported that “attacks by small drones” launched by Ukraine triggered air-defense systems in the peninsula’s west late Saturday, according to the Associated Press.
The news comes on the heels of a series of explosions at a Russian airfield and ammunition depot on the peninsula that exposed the Kremlin’s military vulnerabilities in Crimea. A July 31 drone attack on Moscow’s Black Sea naval headquarters injured five people, followed by explosions at a Russian ammunition depot and one at an airbase that destroyed nine Russian warplanes last week.
Drones have become a tool used by both sides throughout the war as they don’t require a lot of infrastructure or personnel to operate. The Pentagon has said that it is readying a package and will soon send Ukraine Switchblade 600 drones which have a longer range and can deliver more damage, which Ukraine officials believe will be crucial in the defense of their country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly vowed that Ukraine would take back the Crimean Peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.
Three children in ‘serious condition’ following Russian strike on apartment block
Meanwhile, Russia’s military kept up its strikes in Ukraine’s north and south over the weekend.
Twelve people were injured including three children, in a Russian missile attack on an apartment complex in the town of Voznesensk in the Mykolaiv region. Two of the injured children were said to be in serious condition Saturday, with one losing an eye in the attack, according to the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office.
Western leaders discuss growing nuclear safety concerns
President Biden and leaders from the U.K., France, and Germany held a joint phone conference Sunday to discuss increased safety concerns over vulnerable nuclear sites in Ukraine, a day after Kyiv and Moscow officials both reported that a Ukrainian airstrike hit targets in Melitopol, the largest Russian-controlled city in the Zaporizhzhia region located about 65 miles north of Crimea.
“On a joint call, the Prime Minister, President [Joe] Biden, President [Emmanuel] Macron, and Chancellor [Olaf] Scholz underlined their steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion,” a Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement, Reuters reported.
“They stressed the importance of ensuring the safety and security of nuclear installations and welcomed recent discussions on enabling an IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia facility,” the spokesperson said.
The Zaporizhzhia plant, which is Europe’s largest nuclear power station, came under shelling earlier this month, compounding fears of a possible global environmental catastrophe. Russia captured the plant soon after its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
US announces $775 million drawdown in security assistance for Ukraine
Back in Washington, the Pentagon announced another drawdown of defense aid for Ukraine Friday. A DoD official said the latest drawdown, valued at up to $775 million, will include additional ammunition for U.S.-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), 16 howitzers, 36,000 rounds of artillery, unmanned aerial systems, mine-clearing systems, and additional high-speed, anti-radiation missiles to help “Ukrainian aircraft seek and destroy Russian radars.” The drawdown also includes additional javelins and anti-tank missiles.
The official also noted that a $1 billion security assistance package was released on Aug. 8.
“Right now, I would say that you are seeing a complete and total lack of progress by the Russians on the battlefield,” the official said in a briefing, adding that Ukrainian forces are using Western-supplied “Javelins and HIMARS in very effective ways.”
Since 2014, more than $12.6 billion has been provided to Ukraine in security assistance, according to the Pentagon.
“This isn’t the end. We will continue to consult with the Ukrainians to make sure that we are providing them what they need, when they need it,” the official said.