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Russia accuses UK and US agencies of helping plan attack on Black Sea Fleet HQ

Ukraine said the strike that put a large hole in the main building of the headquarters had wounded 105 people.

Russia Ukraine War

Russia has accused Ukraine’s Western allies of helping plan and conduct last week’s missile strike on the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters in annexed Crimea.

“There is no doubt that the attack had been planned in advance using Western intelligence means, Nato satellite assets and reconnaissance planes and was implemented upon the advice of American and British security agencies and in close coordination with them,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing.

Moscow has repeatedly claimed that the US and its Nato allies have effectively become involved in the conflict by supplying weapons to Ukraine and providing it with intelligence information and helping to plan attacks on Russian facilities.

The accusation came the day after video appeared to show the fleet’s commander, Admiral Viktor Sokolov, was still alive despite Ukraine’s claims that he was among 34 officers killed in Friday’s strike on the port city of Sevastopol.

The Crimean Peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, has been a frequent target since Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine 20 months ago. Crimea has served as the key hub supporting the invasion and has increasingly come under fire by Ukraine.

Ukraine said the strike that put a large hole in the main building of the headquarters had wounded 105 people.

Russia initially said one serviceman was killed but quickly retracted that statement and said the person was missing.

Moscow has provided no further updates and has not commented directly on Mr Sokolov’s status.

The Ministry of Defence, however, posted video on Tuesday showing Mr Sokolov among other senior officers attending a video conference with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. Mr Sokolov did not speak in the clip shown.

Ukraine’s Special Operation Forces posted a statement on Tuesday saying its sources claimed Mr Sokolov was among the dead, many of whom had not yet been identified. It said it was trying to verify the claim after the video surfaced.

Mr Sokolov was shown speaking to journalists about the Black Fleet’s operations in a video posted on a news channel linked to the Russian Defence Ministry. It was not clear when the video was recorded. The video did not contain any mention of the Ukrainian attack on fleet headquarters.

Ms Zakharova’s statements follow comments made on Tuesday by Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, who said the arrival of American-made Abrams tanks in Ukraine and a US promise to supply an unspecified number of long-range ATACMS missiles would push Natp closer to a direct conflict with Russia.

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