Russian commander of Black Sea Fleet dies in attack on Sevastopol, according to Ukraine 2:35
(CNN) -- Russian warships continued to launch attacks on Ukraine following Kyiv's claim that the commander of Moscow's Black Sea Fleet was killed last Friday, as President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the arrival of American Abrams tanks in the country.
A spokesman for Ukraine's navy said Monday on national television that, while Russia was still launching attacks from the Black Sea, they looked, by comparison, like operations with "a chicken running around headless."
"Right now, they (the Russian Navy) lost the person who actually manages all this, and their staff, who manage the fleet together with him. It is a large grouping that requires a large number of managers to execute all the processes so that (the fleet) works as a single mechanism. Let's imagine that the central part of this mechanism stops working," Ukrainian Navy spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk said.
Pletenchuk said Russian President Vladimir Putin "does not control the actual operation of ships at sea" and relies on his admirals who know "their means and forces, their personnel, how to manage them, how to deploy them better."
"Therefore, from now on they will have respective problems with the control of the troops," he said.
Pletenchuk's comments came after Ukraine's Special Operations Forces claimed that Russian Admiral Viktor Sokolov, as well as 33 other officers, were killed in the attack on the Black Sea headquarters in Sevastopol last Friday, in perhaps the boldest attack by Ukrainian forces on the occupied territories of the Crimean peninsula so far.
More than 100 Russian servicemen were wounded in the special operation dubbed "Crab Trap," which was scheduled to strike while senior members of the Russian Navy were gathered, Special Operations Forces said.
- Ukraine says commander of Russian Black Sea Fleet killed in Sevastopol attack
Commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Vice Admiral Viktor Sokolov during a farewell ceremony in Sevastopol, Crimea, on September 27, 2022. (Credit: Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters)
CNN cannot independently confirm Ukraine's claims about Solokov or the number of casualties. CNN reached out to Russia's Defense Ministry for comment.
Moscow said a serviceman is missing as a result of Ukraine's attack on Sevastopol.
Ukraine has increasingly been attacking strategic Russian targets in Crimea, the Black Sea region in southern Ukraine that has been occupied by Moscow since 2014. Ukraine has not given up hope of regaining it.
Ukrainian Defense Intelligence spokesman Andrii Yusov said Russia was using Crimea as a "logistics center" and that "the ultimate goal, of course, is the vacancy of Ukrainian Crimea."
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An M1A1 Abrams tank during a training exercise in Bemowo Piskie, Poland, Nov. 25, 2022. (Credit: Staff Sergeant Matthew A. Foster/U.S. Army National Guard)
Abrams tanks arrive
Western arms supplies have played a key role in helping outgunned Ukrainian forces fend off Russian attacks, as well as carry out their own longer-range attacks beyond the front lines.
That has angered Moscow and over the weekend Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States and other countries of being "directly at war with us."
In the latest arrival of key weaponry, the first batch of U.S. Abrams tanks arrived in Ukraine, the Pentagon and Zelensky confirmed Monday.
"The mere presence of Abrams tanks serves as a potent deterrent. By having these tanks in its arsenal, the Ukrainian military can more effectively discourage aggressive actions," Pentagon spokesman Maj. Charlie Dietz said Monday.
The tanks are a long-awaited capability for Ukraine and add a powerful ground component to troops that have already endured more than a year and a half of war.
President Zelensky said the tanks were "preparing to reinforce our brigades."
The United States began training Ukrainian forces on how to operate the tanks in May in Germany. The 31 tanks destined for Ukraine had been refurbished and prepared for shipment over several months, and their transfer was officially approved last month.
At least two killed in Russian attacks on Odessa 3:29
Attacks on port infrastructure
After the Ukrainian attack on Sevastopol on Friday, a wave of Russian strikes hit the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa overnight and early Tuesday, Ukrainian officials said.
The drones attacked Odessa for more than two hours in the early hours of Tuesday, damaging port infrastructure in the Izmail district, according to Oleh Kiper, head of Ukraine's Odessa regional military administration.
It comes a day after Russian strikes killed at least two people and caused "significant damage" to the city, Kiper said. One of the victims was found under the rubble of a warehouse where grain was stored, he said.
Ukraine's military alleged that Russia's attack on Odessa was a violation of international humanitarian law, as it targeted both troops and civilian infrastructure, including energy supplies. The defense forces also said the attack was a "pathetic attempt at retaliation" for the attack on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
Monday's attack damaged the city's port and electrical infrastructure, as well as granaries, warehouses and several private homes in the city's suburbs, Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office said.
Ukraine's energy minister said Monday that about 1,000 customers were without power and that a "large-scale repair campaign" was underway.
Russian forces employed drones, hypersonic missiles, cruise missiles and an Iranian-made submarine in the assault, Ukraine's defense forces said. 19 drones and 11 missiles were shot down.
The remains of the downed weapons damaged some warehouses and private houses and granaries were damaged by the hypersonic missile attack.
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In this Sept. 25 photo, a building is damaged following a Russian military attack in Odessa, Ukraine. (Credit: Odessa Regional Prosecutor's Office/Reuters)
Asked to comment on the Odessa attacks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov directed questions to the Russian Defense Ministry to discuss "specific military operations."
Moscow's forces have repeatedly attacked the southern port following the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal in July, which allowed Ukrainian ships to circumvent the Russian blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports and safely navigate through the waterway to Turkey's Bosphorus Strait to reach global markets.
Many of the world's poorest nations rely heavily on Ukrainian grain and Russia has been accused of weaponizing the threat of global hunger during the war against its neighbor.
Russian forces also shelled the nearby Kherson region — a major shipbuilding industry along the Black Sea — with strikes that killed at least six people and wounded five on Monday, Ukrainian officials said.
A 73-year-old man and a 70-year-old woman were among those killed after Russian forces dropped four bombs on the southern Ukrainian city of Beryslav, according to Oleksandr Prokudin, head of Kherson's regional military administration.
Over the past day, Russian forces launched 87 strikes in the Kherson region, Prokudin said, targeting residential areas, medical buildings, educational institutions and critical infrastructure.
Civilians have fled heavy Russian bombardment and only a quarter of the population remains in Beryslav, according to Prokudin.
"In the past two weeks, nearly 100 children and their families have left the dangerous coastal communities" of the Kherson region, he said.
-- CNN's Olya Voitovych, Rob Pitcheta, Anna Chernova, Mariya Knight, Haley Britzky and Alex Marquardt contributed reporting.
Russian War in UkraineBlack SeaWar Tanks