An alleged Ukrainian drone exploded at Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters, spoiling its planned festivities dedicated to the Navy Crimean peninsula city of Sevastopol, a senior Russian official-annexed Crimea said on Sunday, July 31.

Aside from the at least five injured people, there were no reported casualties from the said bombing.

Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev reported the incident via Telegram, identifying that a “homemade drone” equipped with “low-powered” explosives flew into the courtyard of the fleet’s HQ on Sunday early morning. Furthermore, Crimean authorities raised the terrorism threat level for the region to “yellow,” the second-highest alert, and have canceled all activities for the celebration.

“There were no fatalities, six people were injured, two in moderate condition, the rest are in stable condition,” Razvozhaev stated.

As the Federal Security Service (FSB) investigated the situation, the governor advised residents to “remain calm and stay home if possible.”

The incident happened hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin was scheduled to attend the Navy Day celebrations in his hometown of St. Petersburg and approve Russia’s naval doctrine as Moscow presses on its military intervention in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

The Crimean peninsula, which included Sevastopol and the Black Sea mainland, was the first Ukrainian territory invaded and illegally annexed by Russian troops in 2014.

Is Russia’s air defense crippling?

According to the initial investigation, the drone was a small-scale improvised device, possibly made by Ukrainian insurgents in an attempt “to drive out Russian forces” of the Crimean region.

Sevastopol Drone Attack
In response to the Sunday morning blast, law enforcement officers blocked the streets surrounding the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea. (Image source: Stringer/Reuters)

While Ukraine’s defense ministry did not respond to the accusation, Ukrainian Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich stated that the reported drone attack highlighted Russia’s air defense weakness.

“Did the occupiers admit the helplessness of their air defense system? Or their helplessness in front of the Crimean partisans?” Arestovich said via Telegram.

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He said that if such an attack from “insurgents” is possible, “the destruction of the Crimean bridge in such situations no longer sounds unrealistic,” referring to the span built by Russia to connect its mainland to Crimea after the annexation eight years ago.

There is a Ukrainian insurgency in Crimea that has sabotaged train tracks, set fires to military storage facilities and now this drone attack.

Ukrainian Grain Merchant Assassination

Meanwhile, one of Ukraine’s most notable grain tycoons was killed in what Ukrainian authorities said was a Russian missile strike on his Mykolaiv home on an early Sunday morning.

The recipient of the “Hero of Ukraine” award for his contributions to the country, Oleksiy Vadatursky, along with his wife, was killed instantly, regional Governor Vitaliy Kim announced. Vadatursky was responsible for the country’s major grain production and export business.

His assassination occurred just as Ukraine was about to resume grain exports under a deal with Russia mediated by the United Nations and Turkey. In fact, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently visited the Black Sea port a week after the agreement was signed to personally witness the crew as they prepared to resume grain exports and allow supplies to flow again to millions of impoverished people around the world.

Another presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, claimed that the missile attack “was not an accident, but a well-thought-out and organized premeditated murder.”

“Vadatursky was one of the largest farmers in the country, a key person in the region, and a major employer. That the exact hit of a rocket was not just in a house, but in a specific wing, the bedroom leaves no doubt about aiming and adjusting the strike,” he added.

Vadatursky was one of the tycoons who helped Ukraine become a major global exporter of wheat, barley, corn, and sunflower oil. However, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, exportation has been halted, pushing people who rely on grain affordability even deeper into poverty and hunger.

The murder of Vadaturksy who is a civilian invites retaliation in kind by Ukraine against Russian oligarchs.  We should expect to see something along those lines in the coming days.

Zelensky Calls for Mass Evacuation of Civilians in Donetsk as Fighting Escalates in East Ukraine.

As the fighting in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region continues to worsen, Zelensky urged Ukrainians in the affected area to evacuate as soon as possible on Saturday evening.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people, tens of thousands of children,” Zelensky said in a video posted to his Telegram channel. “Many refuse to leave… But it really needs to be done.”

He continued: “The more people leave Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill.”

Before the assassination of Vadatursky, the Donetsk region was shelled by Russian forces, killing at least three people.

massive-evacuation-in-eastern-ukraine
(Screenshot from Global News/YouTube)

Zelensky vowed full financial and logistical government support to evacuees to further encourage the mass evacuation, saying, “We only need a decision from the people themselves, who have not yet made it for themselves. Leave, we will help.”

The aggressors have been vocal about taking over the entire Donbas region, composed of Donetsk and Luhansk, which the Kremlin already gained control of in early July.

For Ukraine, the evacuation would do several things. First, it will save lives as Russia bombs civilians indiscriminately and even forcibly takes them into Russia to be resettled there.

Second, if Ukrainian civilians are completely absent from Donetsk it cripples its economy.

Third, the absence of friendly civilians in the region deprives Russia of using them as human shields, stationing men and equipment in close proximity to civilians and their homes knowing that Ukraine will hesitate to bomb them fearing collateral casualties among the civilian population.