Several explosions have been reported in Crimea with military bases believed to have been the intended targets. Large plumes of smoke were seen in Bakhchysarai near Sevastopol and Yalta after the missiles hit.

Sevastopol, along with the rest of Crimea, is internationally recognised as part of Ukraine, but it has been occupied by Russia since February 27, 2014.

Russia then annexed Crimea on March 18, 2014.

Speaking earlier today Russia’s Defence Ministry said it prevented a massive drone attack on Crimea.

According to Russian state media, air defences shot down six drones, while electronic warfare systems disabled four others.

Meanwhile, one of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s top advisers, Mykhailo Podolyak, denied today that Ukraine had used drones to attack Russian territory following official statements from Russia that Ukraine had targeted infrastructure deep inside Russia.

Writing on Twitter Mr Podolyak said: “Ukraine does not strike on the territory of the Russian Federation.

“Ukraine is waging a defensive war with the aim of de-occupying all its territories.”

He suggested the targeting of Russian infrastructure was the result of “internal attacks.”

Ukraine’s western allies have discouraged Ukraine from attacking targets in Russia proper to avoid escalation of the conflict, and Mr Podolyak’s statement could reflect an attempt by Kyiv to maintain a degree of deniability in view of those Western concerns.

In the past, Ukrainian officials have stopped short of claiming responsibility for attacks in Russia.

But they have also insisted that Ukraine has the right to strike any target on Russian territory in response to its aggression.

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Also today, the Ukrainian president’s office reported that at least nine civilians were killed and 12 others wounded.

Three people, including a one-year-old boy, were wounded in Russian shelling of Ukraine’s southern Kherson province on Wednesday, regional officials reported.

Fierce fighting also continued in Donetsk province, with Bakhmut, the cities of Avdiivka and Vuhledar, and 17 towns and villages, coming under intense Russian shelling.

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