Institute for the Study of War: Another drone attack against the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Crimea

August 20, 2022

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Russian occupation officials in Crimea reported another drone attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet Headquarters in Sevastopol on August 20. Russian-appointed Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev claimed that Russian forces were unable to shoot down a drone, resulting in the drone hitting the roof of the Black Sea Fleet headquarters.[1] Razvozhaev then retracted his initial statement and claimed that a fleet air defense post shot down the drone, which landed on the roof and caught fire.[2] Social media footage showed a loud explosion and a cloud of smoke around the headquarters, and the drone likely detonated rather than being shot down.  Some OSINT accounts have identified the drone as a commercially-available “Skyeye 5000mm Pro UAV.”[3] Ukrainian officials did not claim responsibility for the attack as of the time of this publication. ISW has previously reported that Crimean occupation officials have obliquely accused Ukraine of orchestrating a drone attack on the headquarters on July 31 during Russia’s Navy Day.[4]

Russian occupation officials in Crimea are likely considering strengthening security on the peninsula following the attacks on Russian military infrastructure, and such measures may draw Russian security forces away from the front lines. Razvozhaev stated that all security services in Sevastopol are operating in “high alert” mode and controlling all entrances to the city.[5] Razvozhaev claimed that Sevastopol residents are asking the occupation administration to increase patrols in the city and establish new checkpoints, returning the peninsula to a security posture such as it had after Russia initially seized it in 2014. ISW has previously assessed that Russian forces have been using all types of security forces, including Rosgvardia, as combat forces and will likely need to divert some of these forces from the front lines and from occupation security duties elsewhere to defend occupied Crimea.[6] Russia’s continued failures to stop attacks against occupied Crimea may also spark public discontent within Russian society. One Russian milblogger criticized Russian forces for not using more electronic warfare (EW) equipment following the first drone attack on July 31.[7] Social media footage already shows many Russians waiting in traffic jams to leave Crimea and go to Russia, which may indicate growing public concern for the effectiveness of Russian security measures.[8]

Key Takeaways

  • Russian occupation officials in Crimea reported another drone attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet Headquarters in Sevastopol and are likely considering strengthening security on the peninsula.

  • Russian forces conducted unsuccessful assaults across the Eastern Axis.

  • Russian forces attempted limited, failed assaults north of Kharkiv City.

  • Russian forces failed to advance after several assaults northwest of Kherson City and east of Mykolaiv City.

  • Ukrainian forces continued to strike Russian ammunition depots and positions in Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts.

  • Russian and proxy forces are continuing mobilization efforts, including forced mobilization in occupied territories and advertising campaigns.

  • Russian occupation authorities continued coercive measures to force civilian cooperation with the occupation administrations.

  • Conditions in occupied territories continued to deteriorate, indicating ineffective governance.