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Ukraine tries to weaken Russian air defense umbrella over Crimea

Ukraine tries to weaken Russian air defense umbrella over Crimea Ukraine weakens Russia's air defense system in the occupied Crimea (photo: Getty Images)

Ukrainian Forces are conducting a multi-day campaign targeting Russian military objects in the temporarily occupied Crimea, successfully striking several targets in various regions of the peninsula, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) referenced information from Russian sources in its report, indicating that on the night of January 5 to 6, Ukrainian Defense Forces launched four Storm Shadow cruise missiles targeting an administrative building at the Russian airbase Saki near the settlement of Novofedorivka in Crimea.

The Russian Ministry of Defense reported that on the night of January 5 to 6, Russian Forces destroyed five Ukrainian drones and four missiles over the Black Sea and Crimea. Additionally, on January 6, six Ukrainian Neptune missiles were reported over the northwestern part of the Black Sea.

Lieutenant General Mykola Oleschuk, the commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, expressed gratitude to Ukrainian pilots for the successful targeting of objectives at the Saki airbase. However, he did not specify whether this pertained to Ukrainian strikes on January 4, 5, or 6. He shared satellite images depicting the successful Ukrainian strike on the Saki airbase. The ISW noted that, at present, they are unable to identify the specific target.

The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reported that a comprehensive special operation was conducted by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and Ukrainian troops. On January 4, they targeted Russian radar positions at the Saki airbase and a vehicle depot near Gryshyne (60 km northeast of Yevpatoria). The Directorate published satellite images showing damage to the mentioned Russian ammunition depot.

Ukrainian officials and sources have also informed that starting from January 4, the Armed Forces targeted the air defense radar system and the communication center in Yevpatoria, responsible for coordinating Russian air defense operations in the occupied Crimea. Additionally, ammunition depots near Pervomaiske (82 km north of Simferopol) and a Russian command post near Sevastopol were reportedly attacked.

"Ukrainian and Russian reporting indicates that Ukrainian missiles and drones are penetrating Russian air defenses in occupied Crimea and have successfully struck some intended targets. A prominent Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces are conducting strikes aimed at degrading the Russian air defense umbrella over occupied Crimea," stated the ISW report.

The Institute for the Study of War has currently declined to assess the objective of the current Ukrainian campaign targeting Russian rear areas in the occupied Crimea. They recalled that in the summer of 2023, Ukrainian forces conducted a striking campaign against Russian military infrastructure, headquarters, logistical routes, and objects of the Black Sea Fleet, displacing Russian military-maritime operations from the western part of the Black Sea. The goal of the campaign was to weaken the ability of Russian forces to use Crimea as a staging area and rear support for defensive operations in southern Ukraine.

Strikes by Defense Forces on targets in Crimea

On January 4, powerful explosions were reported in the temporarily occupied cities of Sevastopol and Yevpatoria. Before this, Russian occupiers had blocked movement across the Crimean Bridge.

Later, the Strategic Communications Department of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that a junction point of Russian occupation forces near the occupied Sevastopol had been targeted.

There were also reports on social media that a military facility in Yevpatoria had been hit, and as a result of the attack, allegedly, 23 occupiers and a Russian colonel were eliminated.

The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine released satellite images confirming the destruction of ammunition depots belonging to Russian aggressors, as well as the impact on the positions of radar stations (RLS).

Additionally, on January 6, the Ukrainian Air Force targeted the Saki airbase near the settlement of Novofedorivka, destroying another enemy command post.