THE commander of Vladimir Putin's feared Black Sea Fleet has been killed in a strike on Crimea, Ukraine claims.
Admiral Viktor Sokolov is understood to be one of 34 officers who died after Storm Shadows blitzed the headquarters in Sevastopol.
Sokolov had been handpicked by Putin to restore the fleet’s pride after the loss last year to Ukrainian Neptune missiles of flagship Moskva.
But on Friday, footage showed black smoke billowing from the building in Crimea, which the tyrant illegally annexed in 2014, following a missile attack.
A second strike was then launched on Saturday – with a clip showing the moment a British-supplied Storm Shadow missile hit the already-burning building in Sevastopol.
The Kyiv army’s special operations force claimed the strikes wounded 105 people in the fleet, and left 34 dead.
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It added: "The headquarters building cannot be restored."
Britain agreed to send its Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine in May after pledging to boost their supplies of long-range weapons.
The bunker-busting missiles have proved a nightmare for Putin as they can blast targets up to 350 miles away that have long been out of reach for Ukraine.
They have previously been used to blow up to key bridges in Crimea as well as key military bases.
Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine's military intelligence chief, said commanders Colonel-General Alexander Romanchuk Chief of Staff and Lieutenant-General Oleg Tsekov were wounded in the strike.
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But Ukraine has now claimed Sokolov was killed in the strikes, which would make him one of Putin’s most senior commanders to be killed in the war – and the first Admiral.
Moscow imposed a news blackout after the Friday strike, a move indicating that the consequences had been serious.
An earlier attack on the large Minsk landing ship in Sevastopol led to the “irreversible losses” of 62 on board the vessel in dock ahead of deployment, Ukraine said today.
A £250 million submarine was also hit – the Rostov-on-Don.
Meanwhile, it was confirmed today that Russia suffered another setback involving senior officers in an attack on an air base near Kursk that houses MiG-29SMT and Su-30SM warplanes.
The commander of the base and other senior officers were examining a unexploded kamikaze drone that hit the Khalino base that blew up as they did so.
One source said: “We have bad news in Khalino.
“There are both [killed] and [wounded].
“A UAV arrived, but it fell into some container and did not explode.
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“When the commander, political officer, and several other people arrived at this place, they began to inspect and an explosion occurred.
“The commander was in a very serious condition in hospital. Two died.”
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