“As part of the special operation, the landing of personnel took place on the territory of the peninsula,” a representative from Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate said of the operation, adding that Ukrainian forces attacked Russian troops after landing. “The goal has been achieved, there are no losses among personnel. The special operation continues, we do not reveal all the details, there are losses among the enemy’s personnel, as well as among the forces and means. Information on the number of losses is being clarified.”
The Main Directorate of Intelligence conducted the operation, which took place overnight, in coordination with the Navy, he added.
Observers reported explosions and seeing a plume of smoke near Olenivka in western Crimea on Wednesday, according to reports on Telegram. Others heard explosions Thursday in the village of Mayak on Cape Takhankut, near Russian air defense assets, according to The New Voice of Ukraine.
The attack targeted the Bastion anti-ship cruise missiles, according to Petro Andriushchenko, an advisor to the Mayor of Mariupol. “Remarkable. The coastal anti-ship missile complex Bastion has been hit in Crimea,” he said.
Some local social media accounts reported the attacks hit a radar station in Crimea used to provide targeting information for Russian anti-aircraft missiles, such as the S-400 missile system. A Ukrainian intelligence official confirmed to RBC that Ukraine had hit Russian military facilities in Crimea, damaging a S-400 missile defense battery in the region.
Ukrainian officials have been adamant for months that Kyiv will try to take back Crimea from Russia, which illegally annexed the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014 and has been occupying it ever since. Last year, the top Ukrainian official in charge of Crimea, Tamila Tasheva, told The Daily Beast in an interview that de-occupying Crimea from Russian invaders would likely include a military component. The sweeping operation suggests that Kyiv is ready to take more decisive action on the peninsula.
Ukraine has been targeting Crimea in earnest for weeks now. In July, Ukrainian drones hit an ammunition depot in the region and a key bridge, Kerch, which connects Crimea to Russia.
The peninsula has long been important to Russian President Vladimir Putin, both because he has viewed seizing the territory as key to his legitimacy inside Russia, and because it has become a key logistics hub for Moscow as a launchpad for waging war in Ukraine.
Russia has previously retaliated to attacks on Russian military entities in Crimea with increased attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure.
Some senior U.S. officials have viewed efforts to take back Crimea from Russia as a nuclear red line for Putin, as The Daily Beast has reported. Western officials have urged Kyiv to reconsider its objective.
But the top Ukrainian official in charge of Crimea told The Daily Beast earlier this year that some of that resistance has started to melt away in recent months.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has said that Kyiv will continue going after Crimea in order to take out Russian assets helping them keep the war effort going in Ukraine.
“All these targets are official targets because it will reduce their capacity to fight against us (and) will help to save the lives of Ukrainians,” he said in a CNN interview.
And although the counteroffensive Ukraine is waging against Russian forces has been going slower than expected, according to some reports, Ukrainian officials still have their sights set on Crimea.
Ukrainian officials warned Thursday that Ukraine is prepared to go in on Crimea.
“We can currently strike at any part of the temporarily occupied Crimea. We can reach the enemy at absolutely any point,” said the chief of the Defense Intelligence unit of Ukraine, Kyrylo Budanov, according to RBC. “Those who have done stupid things better leave. And those waiting should prepare and do everything to help intelligence agencies and further when the troops go openly.”