The Russian-installed governor of the Crimean city of Sevastopol said on Saturday that air defences had shot down a drone in what he suggested was the latest attempted Ukrainian attack on a port where Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based.
Mikhail Razvozhaev, the Russian-backed governor of the city, made the accusation on the Telegram messaging service, alleging that the incident had occurred in the early hours of Jan. 7, which is Orthodox Christmas.
“Even the sacred holiday of Christmas was not a reason for these inhuman people to halt their attempts to attack our Hero City,” Razvozhaev wrote.
There was no immediate comment on the allegation from Ukraine, which has not in the past confirmed similar alleged incidents but has made clear it reserves the right to do what is necessary to return its own territory.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and Kyiv says it is determined to return the Black Sea peninsula along with a swath of eastern Ukraine and other territory that Russian forces have seized since they invaded on Feb. 24 last year.
Crimea, which Russia says is now its sovereign territory, was one of the launchpads for what Moscow called its “special military operation” and has come under attack several times – most spectacularly in August, when a series of explosions destroyed a group of warplanes at a Russian naval base.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had proposed a truce to coincide with Orthodox Christmas. Kyiv rejected his offer as a cynical ruse to buy time for Russia’s forces to rest and bring in new equipment.