Vladimir Putin has been dealt a huge blow with Russia’s elite military “fleeing from Crimea” as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky warned taking full control of the key battleground is “only a matter of time”.
Crimea – a peninsula that is home to Russia’s fearsome Black Sea Fleet – was annexed by Russia back in 2014, and is seen as vital in determining who is victorious in the bloody and brutal war between the two countries.
Ukraine has stepped up efforts to regain the territory in recent weeks, successfully striking key infrastructure as Russia’s own dwindling offensive quickly falls flat as losses pile up.
Zelensky has now made arguably his biggest declaration over Crimea since the war with Russia started in October 2022.
He said during a speech at the Crimean Platform parliamentary summit, as translated by the Kyiv Post on X (formerly Twitter): “The Russian military fleet is fleeing from Crimea.”
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Zelensky also full Ukrainian control over Crimea is now “only a matter of time”, according to the Kyiv Independent.
The Ukrainian president said his country will have “fire control capabilities over occupied Crimea”.
He noted Russia’s fearsome Black Sea Fleet has suffered such significant losses that a new naval base is planned to open in Abkhazia, a Russian-occupied region of Georgia.
This is so Russia can move ships “as far as possible from Ukrainian missiles and naval drones.”
Last week, Russia suffered another major setback after a depot supplying the country’s Black Sea Fleet was blown up in a Ukrainian missile strike.
Images on social media showed a thick plume of smoke billowing into the sky following the devastating strike in Tsukrovaya Golovka, near occupied Sevastopol.
Hours earlier, explosions were also reported in the Bakhchisaray district from the direction of Sevastopol.
This came less than a month after Ukrainian forces targeted Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters using British missiles, with the strike killing 34 Russian soldiers and injuring another 105.