On Thursday, the country’s navy and military intelligence carried out a “special operation” overnight in which units landed on Russia-occupied Crimea, the defense ministry’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR) said. The raid “showed that the occupied Crimea is within range of our soldiers,” a HUR statement quoted its spokesman, Andriy Yusov. The statement did not specify the operation’s goals but did note that the Ukrainian flag “flies again in Ukrainian Crimea.”
Reuters was unable to confirm the report independently. But it would amount to a rare demonstration that Ukrainian forces can stage ground operations in Crimea, which Russia seized and annexed in 2014.
Brief and dark video footage posted alongside the HUR statement showed a small motorboat moving through the water at night near a coastline. The intelligence agency said the landing point was on the western coast of Crimea, near the Olenivka and Mayak settlements. It said the goal was to inflict casualties on Russia’s occupying troops but did not specify how many were killed or wounded. HUR also claimed that the Ukrainian raiders had destroyed or damaged equipment and weapons.
In a separate statement, Yusov said the raid had shown that Ukraine has the right to defend its territory. “It is necessary to stop Putin’s armed aggression and fully restore our sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” he added. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has vowed to end Russia’s occupation of Crimea, but Moscow shows no sign of giving up the peninsula.
Russia annexed the southern peninsula from Ukraine by force in 2014, eight years before launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The United States and much of the West have condemned Russia’s actions in Ukraine as violating international law.
The annexation has angered many Ukrainians, especially in the eastern part of the country. Amid the ongoing conflict, Ukraine has been hit by a wave of attacks that have killed several civilians.
Ukraine’s foreign minister has called on the United States to impose more sanctions against Moscow for its aggression in Ukraine. The United States has already imposed sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine and other countries worldwide. The United States also has increased its naval presence in the Black Sea. The move reflects the increased tensions between the two countries. It comes as Washington seeks to counter Russia’s growing regional military influence. It is also seeking to boost its ties with the countries in the region. It strengthens regional security through multilateral initiatives and partnerships like the new NATO-Ukraine Joint Task Force. The mission will be based in Ukraine and include troops from several allies, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and Poland. The new unit is expected to be operational by early next year. US Ambassador to Ukraine James Cunningham has said that the deployment will be “significant” and will help protect Ukrainians in the event of a conflict.