Key developments on Oct. 30:
- Russia claims downing Storm Shadow missiles over occupied Crimea, locals report hits
- Rutte: Pledged F-16s to arrive in Romania for pilot training in 2 weeks
- Prosecutor's Office: Russian forces murder a family of 9 in occupied Volnovakha
- Digital Transformation Ministry prepares 'smart mobilization' for recruiting military specialists
- Ukraine's Foreign Ministry dismisses Russia's accusations of Makhachkala riots involvement
Ukrainian forces struck a strategic air defense facility on the western coast of Russian-occupied Crimea overnight on Oct. 30, the Ukrainian military's Center for Strategic Communications reported.
Earlier the same day, the Russian Telegram channel Astra claimed that a Ukrainian missile strike hit a base of Russian air defense forces near the village of Olenivka in the western part of Crimea.
According to Astra’s sources, the attack allegedly injured 17 Russian soldiers and damaged five military vehicles.
The Center for Strategic Communications didn’t provide any details on casualties and damages in the strike, as well as on the type of weaponry used.
In the same report, Ukraine’s military said that its Oct. 25 strike near occupied Luhansk hit a Russian S-400 air defense system.
Later, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed its forces shot down eight Storm Shadow missiles allegedly launched by Ukraine at Russian-occupied Crimea, apparently in a separate incident.
Kyiv hasn’t commented on the incident.
Local pro-Ukrainian Telegram channel Crimean Wind reported several explosions in Sevastopol at around 12 p.m. local time. Residents confirmed the information on the explosions to the Ukrainian media outlet Suspilne.
Russian forces reportedly deployed a smoke screen over Sevastopol Bay at the time of the attack. After it disappeared, pillars of smoke appeared over a local sea port and the Gollandiya district, which hosts many military facilities, according to Crimean Wind.
The Kyiv Independent couldn’t immediately verify these claims.
Explosions also occurred in Saky on Crimea’s western coast, followed by electricity cut-offs in the city, Suspilne Crimea wrote, citing residents.
Starting in the summer of 2023, there have been a series of increasingly destructive attacks on Russian military facilities on the occupied peninsula.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Oct. 24 that recent Ukrainian attacks have denied the Russian fleet safe haven and secure maritime corridors in the western part of the Black Sea as Kyiv's troops look to squeeze Russian-installed forces out of Crimea.
F-16s to arrive in Romania for pilot training in 2 weeks, says Dutch PM
The F-16 fighter jets that the Netherlands pledged to Ukraine will be delivered to Romania in two weeks for Ukrainian pilot training, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Oct. 30.
Their imminent delivery was confirmed during a video call with President Volodymyr Zelensky, where the two leaders discussed a number of other issues.
Rutte emphasized that "the Netherlands will continue to support Ukraine in the face of continued Russian aggression, as much and for as long as necessary."
Rutte also promised that "the devastating situation in Israel and Gaza will not divert our attention away from Ukraine. The existential need to push back against Russian aggression is still our priority, both for Ukraine and for the security of Europe as a whole."
Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said on Oct. 11 that the Netherlands would deliver "12 to 18 aircraft to Romania" in the coming weeks so that pilots can begin training.
The Dutch provision of F-16s is part of an international coalition to train Ukrainian pilots.
The Netherlands and Denmark are leading the allied efforts to provide Ukraine with the fourth-generation American jets.
Although the pace of F-16 procurement and training has picked up, it's estimated that the first Ukrainian pilots to undergo F-16 training will not be ready to fly them until summer 2024.
Prosecutor's Office: Russian forces murder 9 family members in occupied Volnovakha
Russian forces in occupied Volnovakha, Donetsk Oblast, entered a home and murdered nine civilians, including three women and two children, aged five and nine, the Donetsk Oblast Prosecutor's office said on Oct. 30.
According to the preliminary investigation, Russian soldiers approached the home several days before and demanded that the residents vacate so that they could reside there. The residents refused even though the Russian soldiers threatened them, and the soldiers left.
They returned on Oct. 27, the Prosecutor's Office said, and shot all nine members of the family while they slept.
Russian authorities confirmed the murder, but didn't name the perpetrators.
The Ukrainian investigation is still ongoing, according to the Prosecutor's Office. If convicted, those responsible for the murders could face a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
Volnovakha, located about 65 kilometers from occupied Mariupol and the Black Sea coast, has been occupied by Russian forces since shortly after the beginning of the full-scale invasion.
It saw heavy fighting in March 2022, causing an unknown number of civilian casualties and damaging a majority of the buildings in the city.
Digital Transformation Ministry prepares 'smart mobilization' for recruiting military specialists
The Digital Transformation Ministry is working on a so-called "smart mobilization" project to recruit military specialists voluntarily, the ministry's head, Mykhailo Fedorov, said in an interview with RBC Ukraine on Oct. 30.
The pilot phase of the project, expected to be launched within the next two months, will focus on finding drone operators for Ukraine's Armed Forces, the official explained.
"We're going to run a pilot on drone operators, and that person will choose whether they want to be a drone operator or serve in a strike drone company," Fedorov said in the interview.
"If you submit an application and pass the recruitment and tests, you will undergo training, you will definitely get into a drone company, and you will definitely get into the position for which you signed up."
Fedorov emphasized the voluntary aspect of "smart mobilization."
"A person independently chooses – this is not even about mobilization, as a person chooses for themselves – the specialization for which they want to sign up, and without coercion, independently."
According to the minister, the pilot phase will help to estimate how many people are willing to volunteer and how well they will perform. Once the project is fully ready, it will be made available to "sappers, drives, all other positions," Fedorov added.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry dismisses Russia's accusations of Makhachkala riots involvement
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko dismissed on Oct. 30 Russia's accusation of Kyiv's involvement in antisemitic riots in Dagestan, adding that the events reflect the "deep-rooted antisemitism of Russian elites and society."
"Threats to Jews are the result of the work of Russian state propaganda, which cultivated hatred towards other peoples among Russians for decades," Nikolenko said, drawing attention to past antisemitic statements by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin.
Russia's allegations of Ukraine's involvement are a mere attempt to "shift responsibility from the sick to the healthy," Nikolenko commented.
A crowd of protesters stormed Makhachkala Airport in Russia's Dagestan on Oct. 29, reportedly looking for Jews on a plane arriving from Tel Aviv.
Rioters shouted antisemitic slogans as they protested against Israel amid its ongoing military conflict with the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip.
At least 20 people were reported as injured to various degrees of severity during the airport riots, including nine police officers.
Russian authorities announced on Oct. 30 that law enforcement took complete control of the airport and detained 60 people over participation in the riots.
Russia's Foreign Ministry accused Ukraine of involvement in the events, claiming that Kyiv played "a direct and key role in carrying out the latest destructive act."
"Of course, Ukraine has nothing to do with the latest large-scale surge of xenophobic sentiments on the territory of the Russian Federation," President's Office Advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said in a comment for the media.