Vladimir Putin’s top admiral has been killed in a devastating missile strike against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters.
Unconfirmed reports from multiple sources have claimed Admiral Viktor Nikolayevich Sokolov died when cruise missiles – including at least one British-made Storm Shadow missile – slammed into the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in occupied Sevastopol, Crimea.
Authorities on both sides have not confirmed the reports of the admiral’s death.
Sokolov is the head of Russia’s Black Sea fleet which has been involved in strikes across Ukraine and his death would be a huge blow to Russian forces in Ukraine.
It’s unclear how many people died in the strike which was confirmed and lauded by Ukrainian officials. There has also been unconfirmed reports of a cyber attack on Crimea’s largest internet provider, a Russian-installed local leader claimed.
The daytime attack on the heart of the Russian Navy in Crimea comes amid other strikes in Sevastopol – one which severely damaged a Russian Kilo-class submarine. As of this morning, there were reports of fires near an oil depot used by the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.
The strikes aimed at Russia’s naval assets in Ukraine could have significant consequences further afield than the southern theater.
Not only does the Russian Navy attempt to exercise control of the Black Sea but it is involved in operations – and strikes – throughout Ukraine, according to the think-tank The Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
It said in an update: “Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is an element of the Russian navy subordinate to the Southern Military District (SMD), but commands air and ground units in occupied Crimea and elsewhere along the front in Ukraine in addition to its naval vessels.
“Elements of the Black Sea Fleet’s 810th Naval Infantry Brigade are engaged in critical defensive operations in western Zaporizhzia Oblast, and the Black Sea Fleet’s 22nd Army Corps is defending positions on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast.”
Ukraine also launched another strike against the Russian airfield near occupied Saky, Crimea damaging Russian aircraft, according to ISW.
The wave of attacks against targets in Crimea is likely an attempt to further disrupt ground lines of communications and logistics for the southern front and eastern fronts.
In recent days, Ukraine has attempted to expand a breach in Russian lines near the liberated village of Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Kyiv’s forces have broken through Russian defensive lines east of Robotyne towards Verbove, according to Ukrainian sources.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian armor – including Stryker and Marder IFVs – were seen engaged in heavy fighting past Russian lines.
The recent strikes in Crimea will likely add further chaos to Russian efforts on the southern front while Ukraine focuses on making a decisive breakthrough.
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