Saturday, 26 August 2023 04:51

What to know after Day 548 of Russia-Ukraine war

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Ukraine says it hit Russian military base in annexed Crimea

Ukraine's GUR military intelligence agency said on Friday a Ukrainian drone attack had hit a Russian military base deep inside annexed Crimea, while residents reported casualties, explosions and a road closure.

Early on Friday, Russia reported one of the biggest coordinated Ukrainian air raids yet over Russian-controlled territory but said air defence systems had downed all 42 drones attacking Crimea before they could hit their targets.

Ukrainian intelligence officials said the attack struck Russia's 126th Coastal Defence Brigade based in Perevalnoye, a town more than 200 km (120 miles) from Ukraine-controlled territory.

"We confirm that there was a hit," said GUR spokesman Andriy Yusov, according to Ukrainian media outlet Liga.Net.

Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea in 2014, declaring it Russian territory. The United States says it supports Ukrainian attacks on Russian military targets on the Black Sea peninsula of because it should be demilitarised.

"People - not only on the Ukrainian mainland but also in Crimea - need to remember and believe that our victory and their liberation are not far away," Ukraine's military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said of Friday's strike.

Perevalnoye residents, posting on the Telegram messaging app, reported hearing blasts from the military base and cited casualties.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

"Two people died on a firing range, one was taken to a hospital in a severe condition. This is information from above, from the firing range," said a user nicknamed Abdul Has, whose profile picture shows a man in camouflaged uniform.

Another user, Vlad the Local, said roughly one person was dead.

"Why was a gate to the military town closed?" user Julia Julia asked.

Another resident with the call sign Lis asked others not to disclose information.

"Residents of Perevalnoye, I strongly recommend - don't write here what happened and how," Lis wrote. "We help them to direct fire in the future with that."

** Russia downs drone near Moscow, suspends flights

Russia reported a new drone attack on Moscow in the early hours of Saturday, which again forced the authorities to temporarily shut down all three major airports serving the capital.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that a drone was brought down by air defence systems over the Istra district of the Moscow region. The district is some 50 km (31 miles) west of the Kremlin.

Three major Moscow airports, Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo, suspended flights for couple of hours on Friday, TASS news agency reported.

Aerial attacks on Moscow and other Russian-held territory have intensified in recent weeks, including 42 drones intercepted over the Russia-held Crimean Peninsula on Friday - one of the biggest reported air assaults since the war began.

Although the attacks have not caused extensive damage, their intensity has forced the Russian authorities to temporarily shut down airports serving the capital several times this week.

Russia has blamed Ukraine for the Friday attack and all the previous assaults that intensified after two drones were destroyed over the Kremlin in early May.

Ukraine did not immediately comment and almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia or on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military has said previously, however, that destroying Russia's military infrastructure helps a counteroffensive that Ukraine began in June.



‘Total lie’ Russia killed Prigozhin – Kremlin

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday dismissed what he called unfounded speculation by some media in the West that Moscow may have been behind the crash of Wagner head Evgeny Prigozhin’s plane.

“There is a lot of speculation about that plane crash and the tragic deaths of the passengers, among whom was Evgeny Prigozhin,” Peskov told reporters at the daily press briefing. “In the West, all that speculation is being presented from a certain angle. It’s all a total lie.”

Peskov asked the media to rely on facts, “which as of this moment are few, as they have to be uncovered by the ongoing investigation.” He also reminded reporters that President Putin had promised a thorough investigation, including the DNA testing of the remains.

“There are no official results as of yet. The moment they are ready to be made public, they will be,” Peskov said.

The Embraer 135BJ Legacy 600 private jet was en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg on Wednesday when it crashed in Tver Region. There were ten people on board, seven passengers and three crew members. None survived. Authorities are still working to identify the bodies.

Prigozhin’s name was on the passenger manifest, along with Dmitry ‘Wagner’ Utkin, whose call sign gave the private military company its moniker. Officially, however, the Wagner Group PMC does not exist

Putin commented on Prigozhin’s reported death on Thursday, calling him a man of “complicated destiny” whom he had known since the early 1990s. The Russian president touched on Prigozhin’s business deals in both Russia and Africa and thanked him and Wagner for what they had done in the Ukraine conflict. 

He did not touch on the failed Wagner mutiny at the end of June, after which much of the outfit was disbanded, with the remainder moving to Belarus, along with Prigozhin. 

** Drone destroyed en route to Moscow – mayor

An enemy drone has been destroyed as it was flying towards Moscow, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said in the early hours of Saturday. He added that there was no damage on the ground and that no one was hurt. The Russian capital has been repeatedly targeted by Ukrainian attack drones in recent weeks.

The UAV was shot down in Istra Region west of the city, the mayor said, adding that emergency services were responding to the incident.

The Russian Defense Ministry later released a statement, saying that a Ukrainian drone was on mission to “conduct a terrorist attack” in the capital and the greater Moscow area.

Ukraine stepped up drone and missile attacks deep into Russian territory as its much-anticipated ground offensive, launched in early June, has failed to yield significant results.

Many of the drone raids targeted Moscow, including its high-end financial district, where several UAVs had crashed into office buildings, without causing any casualties. 

According to the MOD, a Ukrainian S-200 missile was intercepted in Kaluga Region, southwest of Moscow, on Friday. Kiev has remodeled some of its Soviet-era S-200 missiles, originally designed to strike airborne targets, into projectiles capable of striking targets on the ground, the Russian military said.

Also on Friday, Ukraine sent more than 40 drones to attack Crimea, all of which were either destroyed mid-air or veered off course due to signal-jamming, the Russian MOD said.







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