Ukraine claims it has raised its flag in Crimea after ‘special operation’


Ukraine claims it has raised its national flag in Crimea after conducting a “special operation” in the Russian-occupied territory overnight.

The raid was carried out by Ukrainian navy and military intelligence with the country saying “all goals and tasks have been completed”, Ukrainian intelligence said in a Telegram statement on Thursday.

Ukraine has not made clear what those goals were.

The raid, which has not been independently verified, would amount to a rare demonstration that Ukrainian forces are able to stage ground operations in Crimea.

Russia seized and annexed the territory in 2014.

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The Ukraine defence ministry’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR) said in a statement: “Special units on watercraft landed on the shore in the area of the Olenivka and Mayak settlements.

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“As a result, the enemy suffered losses among personnel, enemy equipment was destroyed.

“Also, the state flag flew again in Ukrainian Crimea.”

The statement didn’t say where the flag had been raised or provide further details.

Brief and dark video footage posted alongside the statement showed a small motorboat moving through water at night near a coastline.

HUR said the landing point was on the western tip of Crimea, near the settlements of Olenivka and Mayak.

The report of the raid coincides with Ukraine’s Independence Day – which marks the anniversary of the country declaring its independence from the Soviet Union.

Oleksii Riabchyn, Ukraine’s former deputy minister for energy and environment, told Sky News: “[The operation] is a PR move on Ukrainian Independence Day but it does show the vulnerability of Crimea for Putin’s regime.

“Crimea will be Ukraine’s again and the West should be prepared for that.”

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Russia has not responded to Ukraine’s claims about raising its flag in Crimea.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed on Wednesday to end Russia’s occupation of Crimea although Russia shows no sign of abandoning the peninsula.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s military intelligence also reported deliberately luring a Russian military pilot to land his Mi-8 helicopter at a Ukrainian airfield.

The alleged Crimea operation took place as a plane which was reportedly carrying Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin crashed north of Moscow.

The death of Prigozhin, who led a short-lived mutiny against Russia’s military top brass in June, has not been confirmed.

Observers have suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind the crashing of the plane as revenge.