By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed new Ukrainian action against Russia following a missile strike last week against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters that Kyiv said killed nearly three dozen officers, including its top commander.
“We clearly see which directions of pressure on Russia need to be strengthened to prevent [its] terrorist capabilities from growing,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on September 26.
He also said that an analysis of Russia’s military industry shows that pressure on Moscow should be increased.
“We can clearly see which areas of pressure on Russia should be strengthened so that terrorist possibilities do not increase,” he said. “Sanctions are not enough.”
The Ukrainian military said earlier that 20 combat clashes took place on September 26 along the front line amid air strikes in the Donetsk region and fighting in the area around Bakhmut.
An air strike hit near the key village of Klishchiyivka in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, during the day, the General Staff said in its evening report.
Ukrainian forces appeared earlier this month to have recaptured Klishchiyivka as part of their drive to liberate the symbolic eastern town of Bakhmut. The Ukrainian military said on September 26 that its forces were “firmly on the defensive” in the area around the embattled city.
In addition, Ukrainian troops “successfully repelled” Russian attacks to the southeast of the settlement of Severny and enemy attacks in the Maryinka area, both in the Donetsk region, the General Staff said.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office reported Russian military shelling in the Kharkiv region, saying that according to preliminary information, a 64-year-old civilian was injured and hospitalized. In addition, residential buildings, commercial buildings, and a car were damaged, the Prosecutor-General’s Office said.
Ukraine’s military claimed earlier on September 26 that nearly three dozen officers with Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, including its top commander, were killed in a missile attack on the fleet headquarters last week.
Ukraine’s claim about its strike against the Russian Black Sea Fleet could not be immediately confirmed, and Russia released markedly lower casualty figures from the September 22 attack on the Crimea port of Sevastopol.
But the strike itself on the naval headquarters was the latest in a series of increasingly audacious attacks by Ukrainian forces on Russian ships and Black Sea facilities — attacks that Western experts say may have drastically curtailed Russia’s naval operations in the region.
In a statement issued on September 25, Ukraine’s special operations forces cited “new information about the losses of the enemy as a result of the special operation,” claiming that 34 officers, including the fleet commander, were killed when cruise missiles — believed to be either British or French — hit the Sevastopol building. At least 105 others were wounded, it said.
The Ukrainian statement did not name the naval commander in its statement. The current top officer in the Black Sea Fleet is Admiral Viktor Sokolov.
Asked by reporters on September 26 about the Ukrainian claim, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had no comment. And a video released later by state news agency RIA Novosti showed a meeting of top Russian military officials, and RIA said Sokolov was in attendance.
The September 22 attack, which was caught on bystanders’ video and satellite imagery, came on the heels of a missile strike nine days earlier that hit Sevastopol’s main naval shipyard. Two ships — a landing vessel and a diesel submarine — that were undergoing repairs in a dry dock facility were believed to be severely damaged, if not destroyed. The dry dock facility may have also been damaged, which would limit Russia’s ability to maintain and repair its naval ships.
Russia has stepped up its aerial bombardments of Ukrainian sites, targeting in particular Ukraine’s grain-exporting infrastructure in the southern Odesa and Mykolayiv regions. Ukraine has resumed exporting grain despite Russia’s pulling out of a United Nations-brokered deal allowing safe grain shipments in July.
An overnight air strike on another port facility in Izmayil injured two people and damaged infrastructure, the region’s governor said in a post to Telegram on September 26. Ukraine’s military reported shooting down 26 of 38 Iranian-made attack drones it said were launched by Russia.
Russian air defenses shot down a drone on September 26 as it approached the city of Belgorod, regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. There were no casualties or damage, according to preliminary information, he said on Telegram.