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Ukrainian security services (SBU) have released exclusive footage to CNN showing the moment in July when they used an experimental sea drone to attackRussia’s bridge to annexed Crimea, providing new details on the attack and warning more such assaults will follow.
It’s the first time the SBU have openly claimed responsibility for the operation.
Theattack on July 17caused damage to the road lanes of the bridge, and, according to Russian officials, killed two civilians. It was the second attack on the vital crossing and showed how hard it is to defend the only independent Russian link to the peninsula.
The bridge wasopened with much fanfareby Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018 and is symbolic of his desire to take over Ukraine and bind it to Russia forever. It’s also a vital supply link for Russia’s military operation in Crimea.
The head of the SBU, Vasyl Maliuk, told CNN the drone used — called a “Sea Baby”— was the result of months of development that began just after the invasion.
“Sea surface drones are a unique invention of the Security Service of Ukraine,” he said. “None of the private companies are involved. Using these drones we have recently conducted a successful hit of the Crimean bridge, the big assault ship Olengorskiy Gornyak and SIG tanker," he said.
Maliuk was referring to the SIG oil tanker hit in the Black Sea which Ukrainian officials say was carrying fuel for the Russian military. The strike on the Russian assault ship demonstrated a longer range for the Ukrainian military, hitting a vessel with a possible 100 personnel on board, in the Russian naval port of Novorossisk on the eastern coast of the Black Sea.
The SBU provided CNN video of the July attack, which showed the pilot’s screen in the moments before the Sea Baby delivered up to 850 kilograms of explosives to one of the bridge’s concrete support pillars.
Sources in the service also supplied two CCTV videos to CNN that showed the moment of impact of one drone on the road section of the bridge, and then another drone blast hitting the railway section about five minutes later, from the opposing direction.
Ukraine has been coy about the attacks, confirming their involvement through anonymous statements and vague references to “unidentified floating objects,” and Maliuk’s direct claim of responsibility marks a usually direct bid to alert Moscow to the threat these new drones pose.
Maliuk also claimed responsibility for thefirst Ukrainian attack on the bridge, on October 8, but declined to provide details. The circumstances of the attack, which CCTV appeared to show was caused by a blast emanating from a moving truck on the bridge, remain unclear.
A Republican-aligned group is making a new push to turn the tide of GOP opinion on US aid for Ukraine as Congress gears up for what could be a major spending fight when it returns from recess next month.
“Republicans for Ukraine,” a project of the conservative non-profit Defending Democracy Together, is launching a $2 million campaign that will include an ad airing nationally on Fox News during next week’s Republican presidential primary debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the first time GOP candidates will face off.
Nearly 18 months sinceRussia’s invasion, polls indicate waning support among Americans for the US to continue funding Ukraine’s war effort. Since the invasion began, the Biden administration has committed some$43 billionin US security aid for Ukraine.
President Joe Biden has cast support for Ukraine as imperative to protecting the world’s democracies. But not all Republicans agree, and neither does a growing portion of the American public.
In anew CNN pollconducted by SSRS, 55% of respondents say the US Congress should not authorize additional funding to support Ukraine, including 71% of Republicans. And 51% say that the US has already done enough to help Ukraine, including 59% of Republicans. A poll conducted in the early days of the Russian invasion in late February 2022 found 62% of Americans felt the US should have been doing more.
“We feel some sense of urgency. Broadly, we do focus groups with Republican voters and we have noticed a drop-off in support for what we think is a traditional Republican issue,” Gunner Ramer, a spokesperson for the project, told CNN on Tuesday.
At least 19 people were wounded after Russia launched a barrage of missiles in Ukraine's western Lviv region overnight.
The attacks — which happen in the west less often than on the front lines in the east and south — also resulted in the hospitalization of five people, according to the head of the Lviv regional military administration.
Kyiv's air defenses shot down one of the Russian cruise missiles launched at the western region, Maksym Kozytskyi, head of the Lviv regional military administration, wrote on Telegram Tuesday. Six other missiles were not intercepted.
Here are other headlines you should know:
- On the ground developments: The road to victory for Ukraine will be "long and difficult," said Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, looking at a long fight ahead. Ukraine has strengthened its positions east of Kharkiv, along the Lyman-Kupiansk axis, according to Serhii Cherevatyi, deputy commander for strategic communications of the eastern military grouping. Two people were wounded after shelling in the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka in the southern Russian region of Belgorod, the local governor said on Tuesday. The governor of Russia’s Bryansk region, Aleksandr Bogomaz, says Moscow’s forces prevented a cross-border incursion by Ukrainian forces.
- Military support and spending: Sweden announced another military support package for Ukraine, worth about $315 million, the country’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement Tuesday.The Ukrainian government has allocated over 1.2 billion in Ukranian hryvnias (UAH) — about around $32 million — to build up fortifications in the northeastern regions of the country, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced Tuesday. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new package of security assistance for Ukraine, including air defense munitions, artillery rounds, anti-armor capabilities, and additional mine-clearing equipment. Norway's Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace has also signed a $71 million contract with the International Fund for Ukraine for the delivery of air defense systems to Kyiv, the company said in a statement Monday.
- NATO news: Ukrainian officials are slamming comments made by Stian Jenssen, thedirector of the Private Office of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General, who said in published remarks that ceding territory to Russia could be a way for Kyiv to achieve peace and join the military alliance.
The road to victory for Ukraine will be "long and difficult," said Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, looking at a long fight ahead.
"'Two-three weeks', 'by the end of the year', 'next spring' — all this is not true,” Vereshchuksaid Tuesday in a Telegram post. Ukraine has “to get ready for a long fight," she added.
The Ukrainian people should work toward victory “where they belong,”Vereshchuk said.
"We do our best here and now. Patient. Day by day,” she said in the post. “Let's set ourselves up for a long run, not for a sprint."
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has acknowledged that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is moving slower than expected. Ukrainian officials have said that efforts are focused on destroying Russia's capabilities and disrupting its logistics.
Ukrainian officials are slamming comments made by Stian Jenssen, thedirector of the Private Office of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General, who said in published remarks that ceding territory to Russia could be a way for Kyiv to achieve peace and join the military alliance.
"Trading territory for a NATO umbrella? It is ridiculous. That means deliberately choosing the defeat of democracy, encouraging a global criminal, preserving the Russian regime, destroying international law, and passing the war on to other generations," Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, said in a social media post.
Jenssen, who has been in his current NATO role since 2017, made his comments in an interview with the Norwegian newspaper, Verdens Gang.
Oleg Nikolenko, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson,also criticized the remarks.
"Discussions about Ukraine's accession to NATO in exchange for giving up part of its territories are absolutely unacceptable. We have always believed that the Alliance, like Ukraine, does not trade territories,"Nikolenkosaid in a Facebook post.
Nikolenko added that the "conscious or unconscious involvement of NATO officials in shaping the narrative" surrounding Ukraine potentially ceding territories "plays into Russia's hands." Rather, he said, "It is in the interests of Euro-Atlantic security to discuss ways to accelerate Ukraine's victory and its full membership in NATO."
The Ukrainian government has allocated over 1.2 billion in Ukranian hryvnias (UAH), which is about around $32 million, to build up fortifications in the northeastern regions of the country, prime minister Denys Shmyhal announced Tuesday.
“At the request of the Kharkiv and Chernihiv regional military administrations, more than UAH 1.2 billion has been allocated from the state budget reserve fund,” the government announcement read.
The Kharkiv region will get UAH 911.5 million (which is about $24.69 million), while the Chernihiv region will receive more than UAH 363 million (or about $9.83 million), the announcement added. “These are funds for the construction of military engineering and fortification structures," the statement read.
The head of the Kharkiv region military administration, Oleh Syniehubov, said he was grateful for the support of the government in Kyiv.
“Defense capability remains the first and foremost common task,” Syniehubov said. “After all, our border region suffers from constant shelling by the occupiers every day, the Russian army keeps trying to break through our defense, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine fight difficult battles every day.”
The Russian missiles fired on Ukraine overnight were built using foreign chips, according to Andriy Yermak, the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.
“These missiles were manufactured by the Russians this year. There are about 30 foreign chips in the Kh-101, which were manufactured in April,” Yermak wrote on his Telegram Tuesday. “We collect information, work with our partners, and communicate with them regularly. Our partner governments are also working with chip manufacturers and suppliers.”
“Restrictions have already been put in place, but sanctions need to be strengthened to prevent Russia from obtaining critical components and manufacturing missiles,” he added.
Some background: Ukraine has repeatedly called for stronger western sanctions against Russia, arguing that despite the existing tough sanctions imposed by the US, NATO and the EU, Russia is still able to procure components for the weapons it is using in Ukraine.
Russia launched a barrage of missile strikes at Lviv in western Ukraine and other regions far from the front lines, officials said, leaving at least three dead.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited his country’s troops taking part in Kyiv’s counteroffensive in the Zaporizhzhia region, his office said in a statement on Tuesday.
“During a working trip to Zaporizhzhia region, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the positions of the brigades engaged in offensive operations in the Melitopol sector,” his office said.
Zelensky met with the commander of the Tavria operational and strategic group of troops, Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, as well as with several units, including the 3rd Operational Brigade.
“The brigade took part in combat missions in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, in defensive battles for Kharkiv, in the liberation of villages and towns near Kharkiv, and is currently conducting offensive operations in the Zaporizhzhia direction,” Zelensky wrote on his Telegram account. “We discussed the most problematic issues with the brigade commander.”
Zelensky received reports from commanders on the status of the offensive and discussed the needs and issues faced by each brigade, his office said.
“In particular, the military emphasized the need for means of electronic warfare and frontline air defense systems to counter enemy aircraft and UAVs,” according to the statement. “There is also a need for unmanned aerial vehicles, as they are quickly consumed in offensive operations.”
Zelensky and commanders also "discussed the issues of professional selection of people, providing brigades with special equipment and machinery, and the need for armored evacuation vehicles," the president’s office added.