Ukrainian troops raise flag in Crimea after night-time coastal raid, Kyiv says

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Ukraine said one of its elite squads raided the western coast of the Crimean peninsula and killed Russian soldiers — a daring incursion in Kyiv’s otherwise struggling counteroffensive against Moscow’s occupying forces.

While Ukrainian elite squads have raided enemy positions across the Dnipro river multiple times in the past, this is the first time officials have confirmed an incursion into Crimea. One of the goals of Kyiv’s counteroffensive that started in June is to liberate territories and ultimately cut off Moscow’s land access to Crimea. But progress has been slow, mainly due to Russia’s fortified defense lines, frustrating Kyiv’s allies.

The night-time raid in the early hours of Thursday involved a speed boat crossing the Black Sea and landing on the peninsula that Moscow has occupied since 2014 and used as a staging ground for its full-scale invasion last year, officials said.

“Special units on watercraft landed on the shore in the area of ​​Olenivka and Mayak settlements,” Ukraine’s military intelligence unit (GUR) said. During their mission, Ukrainian soldiers “engaged in combat” and killed several Russian troops, while also destroying some of their equipment, GUR added. No casualties were recorded on the Ukrainian side, it claimed.

The raid took place on the same day as Ukraine celebrates its independence from the Soviet Union.

in a Video released by GUR, troops wearing night vision goggles can be seen racing in a high-speed boat at night and later on putting up a Ukrainian flag on a building, saying: “GUR are already in Crimea” and “Glory to Ukraine.” The video ends with the sounds of machine gun fire as the troops rush away by sea in a boat.

Video description

Grainy video of troops on a boat at night

Ukraine has released a video showing troops wearing night vision goggles on a high-speed boat high-speed boat © Anadolu Agency/Reuters

Grainy video of troops on a boat at night

Russian officials did not immediately confirm or deny the incident.

Baza, a Russian social media channel considered close to Russia’s law enforcement, reported shooting in the area and cited eyewitnesses claiming men dressed in dark had landed on the coast overnight.

Ahead of the raid, GRU posted aerial footage from the Cape Tarkhankut on Crimea’s western coast, showing a successful strike blowing up a Russian S-400 air defense system.

Using domestically produced attack drones and long-range missiles provided by western allies, Ukraine’s forces have routinely targeted and struck Russian military installations as well as logistical supply lines in Crimea, including bridges, air bases and the Black Sea Fleet based in the port city of Sevastopol.

Denting Russia’s firepower from Crimea is also key to breaking Russia’s Black Sea blockade of Ukraine’s grain-exporting ports in the southern Odesa region.

Ukrainian forces in recent weeks have been slowly advancing towards the Azov Sea in the south-east of the country, in a bid to cut off Russia’s forces from Crimea.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed to liberate Crimea and the rest of the territory still occupied by Russia and rebuild the picturesque peninsula as an international tourist haven.

“Russia caused the isolation of Crimea, we will return the whole world to Crimea,” Zelenskyy said on Wednesday, as he hosted several western leaders for the third annual Crimea Platform conference in Kyiv.

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