Ukraine claims Crimea landing for ‘special operation’ on Independence Day
On the occasion of its 32nd year of independence, Ukraine has reported that its troops conducted a brief landing operation in the occupied Crimea peninsula. The defense ministry stated that all objectives of this “special operation” were successfully achieved without any casualties.
The ministry further noted that there were losses suffered by the enemy during a firefight in Olenivka and Mayak in western Crimea. It’s worth mentioning that Russia had unlawfully annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, several years prior to launching a full-scale invasion. Currently, there has been no official response from the Kremlin regarding this reported Ukrainian operation.
Ukraine’s defense ministry’s main intelligence department took responsibility for the operation in a Telegram post, highlighting the involvement of the Ukrainian Navy. According to their statement, special units landed on the shore using watercraft and engaged in combat with Russian troops stationed in the area.
The Ukrainian state flag was also raised again in Crimea, as depicted in a short video released by the intelligence department, accompanied by the sound of gunfire.
Reportedly, the skirmish included aircraft and navy ships, as confirmed by Ukraine’s Suspilne television channel. Correspondingly, a Russian Telegram channel also reported fighting in the mentioned area.
In light of the ongoing conflict and Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky conveyed a message on social media, rallying his fellow countrymen to uphold the country’s independence collectively.
The significance of Independence Day has grown amongst Ukrainians since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, ranking as the country’s third most important holiday after Easter and Christmas, according to a poll conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.
Ukraine launched its counter-offensive in June, attempting to expel the Russians from land they had captured in the east and south of the country.
An analysis by BBC Verify showed the gains in terms of reclaimed land size have been small.
However, analysts at the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) say the advances near Robotyne and Urozhaine are “likely tactically significant because of the structure of Russian defensive lines”. They also note that Russian forces have dedicated significant effort to hold the settlements.
Russia has also accused Ukraine of drone attacks, the most recent of which was on 23 August. It hit a skyscraper under construction in Moscow.
Ukraine’s claim of landing its troops in Crimea came a day after it emerged that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the mercenary group that fought with Russia in the war, was on the passenger list of a private jet that crashed after taking off from Moscow.
Mr Prigozhin had led a failed mutiny against Russian President Vladimir Putin in June.