Ukraine Conducts Largest Drone Attack of the War Against Russia

At approximately 1800 EST on May 16th, 2024, Ukraine launched what is now being considered its largest drone strike against the Russian Federation since the February 24th, 2022 invasion. As of 0700 EST this morning, Russian military bloggers are claiming that more than 140 aerial and 20 maritime drones were launched against several targets within the Russian Federation. The two primary targets were power production facilities in Sevastopol, Crimea and oil refineries in Krasnodar Krai, specifically, Novorossiysk.

Attack on Crimea

By 1830 EST on May 16th, 2024, at least forty aerial drones were reportedly flying towards Sevastopol. They were first spotted near Orlyne, Crimea and projected to strike in the vicinity of Sevastopol. By 1900 EST, Sevastopol, Crimea Governor Razvozheav confirmed that Ukrainian drones were targeting Balaklava District of the city and defense forces were engaging with small arms and air defense artillery. By 1930 EST, he had confirmed that the Balaklavskaya TES power plant was offline, although he claimed that falling debris from destroyed drones had knocked out the plant, being very careful to not admit that Ukrainian drones had actually struck the plant. He said:

“The partial blackout is due to the shutdown of some equipment at the Sevastopol substation. Debris from downed UAVs fell on the substation. After repelling the attack, specialists will begin restoring power supply.”

A partial power outage was reported in the Balaklava District of Sevastopol throughout the night. The substation on Chornorichenska Street in Sevastopol was reportedly damaged. Internet access in Crimea had also plummeted during the attack.

Russian Navy and port infrastructure being targeted were reported by 1930 EST when which power outages and explosions were reported in Kozacha Bay, Sakharnaya Golovka, and Balaklava Districts. Ukrainian naval drones were reported to be engaged by 2000 EST near Arabat Spit, Crimea and Sevastopol Bay.

By 2200 EST, all-clear alerts were issued to the city and Governor Razvozhaev reported that no civilians were injured.

Novorossiysk Attack

In addition to the attack on Crimea, the Ukrainians also launched dozens of drones against oil facilities in Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai. At approximately 2015 EST, the initial reports began to come in of the threat of a Ukrainian drone attack in Krasnodar Krai. The first target to be struck was the Port of Novorossiysk. By 2050 EST, power outages were reported in the city as dozens of explosions were heard, especially near the IPP Oil Company on Magistralnaya Street. 

By 2130 EST, Krasnodar Krai, Russia Governor Kondratyev made the following statement:

“Tonight, the Kiev regime unsuccessfully attempted to attack civilian targets on the territory of Novorossiysk. I am grateful to our military personnel for their coordinated and high-quality work. Air defense forces suppressed more than 10 drones. As a result of the fall of the devices, local fires occurred, which are now being eliminated. According to preliminary information, there were no casualties. I ask Novorossiysk residents to remain calm and not post photos and videos of the operation of our air defense systems on social networks.”

City officials announced that all fires had been extinguished by 0230 EST.

Russian Claims of Attack Scale

By 0100 EST, Russian military bloggers claimed that more than 140 aerial drones were used in the attacks. While the Russian ministry of Defense made this announcement:

“Over the past night, a number of attempts by the Kyiv regime to carry out terrorist attacks using aircraft-type unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned boats of the Ukrainian Navy against targets on the territory of the Russian Federation were stopped. Air defense duty systems destroyed and intercepted fifty-one UAVs over the territory of the Crimean Peninsula, forty-four UAVs over the territory of the Krasnodar Territory, six UAVs over the territory of the Belgorod Region and one UAV over the territory of the Kursk Region. During the night, naval aviation and patrol boats of the Black Sea Fleet destroyed six unmanned boats in the Black Sea.”

The Ukrainian government has not made any officially announcement on the attack as of this publication. However, this attack joins a growing list of Ukrainian attempts to respond to Russian strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure and growing successes in Donetsk Oblast and Kharkiv. President Putin discussed the Kharkiv offensive with press this morning but declined to address the Ukrainian drone strikes.

United States Military Academy and American Military University Alumni. Victor covers flash military, intelligence, and geo-political updates.


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