Russia’s Ministry of Defense said on Friday that Ukraine had launched 42 drones at Crimea and fired a missile not far from Moscow overnight, in a volley that could be one of the biggest known aerial assaults on Russian-held territory since the war began.
The attacks — the day after Ukraine claimed that its special forces had staged a brief raid into the occupied Crimean Peninsula and fought with Russian forces — come as the tempo of long-distance Ukrainian attacks has intensified in recent weeks.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said that all of the drones had been intercepted by air defenses or electronically jammed. It also said it had shot down a Ukrainian missile over the Kaluga region of Russia, which borders the Moscow region.
As Kyiv presses a grinding counteroffensive in the east and the south of Ukraine, it has also been conducting strikes far from the front lines in an apparent attempt to disrupt the Russian supply lines that feed Moscow’s war effort. It remains unclear if the strikes have affected Russia’s broader operations on the battlefield.
Ukraine did not comment on Friday’s attacks. But its announcement Thursday — on Ukraine’s Independence Day — of an apparently small incursion into Crimea suggests that Kyiv is increasingly able to strike deep behind Russian lines. While missile and drone attacks are frequent, there have been few if any previous reports of Ukrainian troops setting foot on the peninsula since the full-scale invasion began in February 2022.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and other senior Ukrainian officials have said that they intend to recapture Crimea, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014. However, some U.S. military analysts say that retaking Crimea by force might prove an almost insurmountable challenge for Ukraine in the short term, given Russian defenses.