Ukraine strikes at Crimean drilling platforms

Ukrainian military forces deployed missiles to attack three gas platforms in the Black Sea during the morning of June 20th. There were 109 people on board the platforms, of whom five were injured and later hospitalized, and seven were missing.

The rest were to be evacuated.

There was not yet any information on the extent of the damage to the platforms damages, although it was known that fires resulted.

All three platforms belong to Crimea-based ChernomorNefteGaz company, and were “confiscated” by Russia after Crimea was annexed by Russia.

Russian-backed officials seized Chernomorneftegaz from Ukraine’s national gas operator Naftogaz as part of Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula in 2014. The company is under US and European Union sanctions.

According to Crimea officials, gas pipes were closed and sealed to prevent fire spread.

Legally speaking the platforms are in Ukrainian exclusive economic zone waters and Ukraine struck its own three platforms, which had been hijacked several years previously. In de facto terms, the attack will impact Russia’s gas production rather than Ukraine’s.

The platforms were most likely the Petr Godovanets, Ukraine and Tavrida.

Sergei Askyonov, the pro-Russian head of the annexed peninsula, revealed the attack in a post on Telegram, but gave no details of what weapons were used.

Crimean officials said work on three drilling platforms had been suspended after the hit, with fires reported.

Ukraine’s military declined to comment.

Askyonov said Ukraine hit the platform at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT) on Monday.

The rigs are located off Ukraine’s south coast in the Black Sea, 71 km from Odesa.

Meanwhile in Odesa, Ukraine’s biggest Black Sea port, a food warehouse was destroyed in a Russian missile attack on Monday, the Ukrainian military said. No civilians were reported killed. The Operational Command “South” said Russian forces fired 14 missiles at southern Ukraine during a three-hour barrage.