Ukrainian forces have launched missile strikes against two separate Russian targets in the Black Sea, according to local Ukrainian media and Russian occupational authorities in the Russian-controlled Crimea peninsula.
At 04:30 AM on June 20 a series of up to 10 explosions were heard on Russian-occupied Zmiyny Island in the Black Sea, just over 350 km from the Ukrainian mainland.
The explosions, reported on Ukrainian social media, were heard as far away as the Ukrainian coastal region of Odesa, where residents reported seeing the rockets hit the island and explode.
Ukrainian media, citing sources in Ukraine’s intelligence community, have speculated that the strikes were carried using U.S. HIMARS missiles and inflicted heavy Russian casualties.
The White House announced June 1 that the U.S. would supply Ukraine with the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, a light multiple rocket launcher developed in the late 1990s for the United States Army.
Ukrainian Defense Secretary Andriy Yermak said on June 16 that Ukrainian troops had already mastered their use, with President Zelensky adding that the missiles, which have a range of up to 300 KM, would not be used to attack Russian territory.
Also on Monday, 20 June, Russian occupational authorities in Crimea, accused Ukrainian forces of firing on an unspecified oil rig platform off the coast of the peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
“This morning, the enemy attacked the drilling platforms of Chornomornaftohaz,” Russian occupational authority head in Crimea Sergey Aksyonov said on Telegram, referring to the Crimea-based oil and gas company.
Aksyonov said three people were injured in the attack and two more rescued, while aerial and naval search and rescue efforts are under way to find other survivors.
Chornomornaftohaz operates several gas and oil fields in the Black Sea and in the nearby Sea of Azov.
The strike, if confirmed, would be the first attack on offshore energy infrastructure in the Black Sea since Russia’s all-out invasion in February this year.
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