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Ukraine war latest: Kremlin claims 'provocations' from US drones over Black Sea, prepares potential response

by The Kyiv Independent news desk June 28, 2024 8:34 PM 6 min read
Ships anchored in the Black Sea await to enter the Sulina canal, one of the spilling points of the Danube River to the Black Sea in Sulina, south-eastern Romania, on June 8, 2022. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images)
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Key updates on June 28:

  • Kremlin claims 'provocations' from US drones over Black Sea, prepares potential response
  • Drone hits oil depot in Tambov Oblast, Russian official says
  • Russia hits nine-story residential building in downtown Dnipro, killing at least 1, injuring 5
  • Another Russian Su-25 downed, Ukraine's National Guard claims
  • Finland announces $170 million in new military aid for Ukraine

Moscow's defense minister has ordered the Russian army to develop measures to deal with what the ministry called "provocations" from U.S. strategic drones operating over the Black Sea, saying they are increasing the risk of a "direct confrontation" between Russia and NATO.

In a statement on June 28, the Russian Defense Ministry said the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were being used to conduct reconnaissance and find targets for "high-precision weapons supplied to the Armed Forces of Ukraine by Western states."

"This indicates the increasing involvement of the U.S. and NATO countries in the conflict in Ukraine on the side of the Kyiv regime," the statement added.

NATO drones operating over the Black Sea are no secret and can be followed using publicly available flight-tracking websites.

The Black Sea has become one of the main theaters of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with Kyiv having multiple successes striking Russia's naval forces in the region.

Any country can fly drones over the areas of the Black Sea designated international waters, so long as they enter over the territorial waters of a country that gives its permission.

NATO drones operating in such a manner are not breaking international law and do not enter Russian airspace.

However, Russia claimed that "such flights greatly increase the likelihood of incidents in the airspace with aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces, which increases the risk of direct confrontation between the alliance and the Russian Federation," adding that "NATO countries will be responsible for this."

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Drone hits oil depot in Tambov Oblast, Russian official says

A fire broke out at an oil depot in Russia's Tambov Oblast following a drone strike, Governor Maksym Yegorov said on June 28.

The drone hit the facility at 4:35 a.m. local time, Yegorov said. The attack caused "a small fire," which has since been localized.

Emergency workers are extinguishing the fire and there are no casualties, according to the governor. The nearest settlement, located three kilometers from the site, is prepared to evacuate if necessary, he said.

In recent months, Ukrainian forces have launched a series of drone strikes aimed at damaging Russia's oil industry, whose profits fuel Moscow's war efforts.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) previously targeted the Platonovskaya oil depot in Tambov Oblast in an overnight operation on June 20.

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Russia hits nine-story residential building in downtown Dnipro, killing at least 1, injuring 5

Russian troops carried out a missile attack on the city of Dnipro on June 28, damaging a nine-story building, Governor Serhii Lysak said.

At least one person was killed and five others were injured, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said. The number of casualties can increase as the rescue operation is ongoing.

President Volodymyr Zelensky shared photos showing four destroyed floors. He urged partners to provide Ukraine with more air defense systems.

"That is why we constantly remind all our partners: only sufficient quantity and quality of air defense systems, only sufficient determination of the world can stop Russian terror. We need these solutions, we need a reliable air shield for Ukraine," Zelensky said.

People are trapped in their apartments, according to Klymenko. One man was rescued from a car which was covered with debris from the destroyed building, he said.

Dnipro, Ukraine's fourth-largest city located in central-eastern Ukraine, has served as a key logistics and humanitarian hub during the full-scale war.

Russian forces have carried out a number of deadly attacks against the city and the surrounding region since 2022.

The attack on downtown Dnipro on the morning of April 19 partially destroyed a five-story building and damaged the railway station. Three people were killed and 24 injured, according to the State Emergency Service.

Another Russian Su-25 downed, Ukraine's National Guard claims

Ukraine's National Guard claimed on June 28 that it had downed another Russian Su-25 fighter jet in embattled Donetsk Oblast.

In a post on Telegram, the unit said the aircraft was on a combat sortie when it was hit by a "well-aimed shot" from a portable anti-aircraft missile system (MANPADS).

The video of the incident, released by the National Guard, shows grainy footage of the reported incident accompanied by the triumphant shouts of Ukrainian troops.

The National Guard post did not specify when the incident occurred or in which part of Donetsk Oblast.

The Soviet-designed Su-25, nicknamed "Frogfoot" by NATO, is a heavily armored ground-attack aircraft that provides close air support for Russian ground troops.

Russia is carrying out intense attacks in multiple sections of the eastern front, including in Donetsk Oblast, after it captured the city of Avdiivka in February.

This is the second Russian Su-25 jet that Ukraine has claimed to have shot down this month.

Last month, the claimed total was six—Ukraine claimed that it destroyed Su-25s on May 25, May 23,  May 4, May 11, May 13, and May 18.

The General Staff said on June 28 that Russia has lost 360 planes since the launch of the full-scale invasion.

The Kyiv Independent could not independently verify these figures.

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Finland announces $170 million in new military aid for Ukraine

Finland announced its 24th package of military assistance to Ukraine on June 28, consisting of defense material valued at around 159 million euros ($170 million).

The total amount of military assistance Finland has provided Ukraine now stands at 2.2 billion euros ($2.3 billion), the Finnish Defense Ministry said.

According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel), which tracks international aid for Ukraine, Finland has also provided 239 million euros ($255 million) in humanitarian and financial support as of the end of April 2024.

"Finland is committed to supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia's unjustified attack. This is not only about Ukraine, but ultimately about the right of all free peoples to exist," said Defense Minister Antti Hakkanen.

"We Finns have learned from our own history how important this issue is."

The ministry said that for security reasons, the specific contents of the aid package and the time of its delivery could not be specified.

Finland and Ukraine signed a 10-year security agreement in April, which President Volodymyr Zelensky called a "strong document that proves Finland's readiness to continue supporting Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression."

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