Kremlin propagandists have reacted with concern at Moscow’s ability to thwart Ukrainian missiles, following a strike on Russia’s Black Sea Navy headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea.
The consequences of a Ukrainian missile strike on the symbolic heart of Russia’s Navy claimed by Kyiv on Friday are still being assessed. But former Kremlin adviser Sergei Markov said that it showed “we are seeing a clear escalation of strikes” of Western-supplied missiles and drones.
“The air defense of the Russian army clearly needs serious reinforcements,” Markov said on Telegram, following what he called the largest attack by Ukraine on Crimea since the start of the war.
Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the RT channel and a regular guest on Russian state television, wrote on Telegram that the strike had been carried out by the collective West. She issued a warning to Ukraine’s allies.
“Escalation will continue exponentially until we are forced to give them all an ultimatum that from now on we will treat them as participants,” Simonyan wrote. She added that Ukraine’s allies should be treated as military opponents.
Russian state TV host Sergey Mardan described the attack as “a crushing blow to the entire Russian elite,” which he believes is looking to freeze the conflict in the fall of 2023.
Mardan wrote on Telegram that the Russian elite don’t want to fight and consider the full-scale invasion as a catastrophic mistake.
“The ideal way for them is a ‘limited’ military defeat of Russia,” Mardan wrote. “We just need to prove that we can’t win.” He added that Friday’s strikes destroy the myth that “Crimea was returned without a single shot in 2014.”
Brady Africk, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, posted on X (formerly Twitter) satellite images of the aftermath of the strike of smoke rising from the building. He noted how videos showed French- and British-supplied Storm Shadow and SCALP cruise missiles operated by Ukraine hitting the site.
Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine, told Voice of America that nine people were killed and 16 injured. Among the wounded is the commander of the group, Col. Gen. Alexander Romanchuk, while the chief of staff, Lt Gen Oleg Tsekov is “unconscious.” Newsweek has been unable as yet to verify these claims.
“The number of injured regular servicemen who are not employees of the headquarters is still being determined,” Budanov told the U.S. state-owned outlet on Saturday.
However, Andrey Kortunov, an adviser to the Russian Foreign Ministry and director of the Russian International Affairs Council, said that the strikes were psychologically significant, although “militarily, I don’t think it really makes that big a damage.”
“It didn’t hit any really critical military targets,” Kortunov told the BBC’s radio program Today on Saturday. “The damage, at least according to the reports we received, is quite limited.” Newsweek has emailed the Ukrainian and Russian defense ministries for comment.