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Ukrainian commander reveals how Ukraine liberated gas rigs in Black Sea and landed in occupied Crimea

Russians fully manned the strategic gas platforms yet offered little resistance to Ukrainian assaults.
Ukrainian commander reveals how Ukraine liberated gas rigs in Black Sea and landed in occupied Crimea
A Ukrainian commander using the pseudonym Tymur. Photo screenshot
Ukrainian commander reveals how Ukraine liberated gas rigs in Black Sea and landed in occupied Crimea

On Ukraine’s Independence Day, 24 August, Ukrainian soldiers conducted an audacious operation by briefly landing in occupied Crimea and raising the Ukrainian flag. In September, Ukraine launched another bold special operation to gain control of four gas rigs off the coast known as the “Boiko Towers,” depriving Russia of surveillance over the Black Sea. A Ukrainian commander using the pseudonym Tymur shared details of these daring missions.

Russia seized control of the Boiko Towers in 2015, shortly after its illegal annexation of Crimea. The operation to regain control over the rigs was planned for about two weeks, one of the operation’s participants, a commander of a special unit within the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense known as Tymur told He mentioned that the biggest challenge for his team was the open seas.

“My unit only had experience in river sabotage actions. Snake [Zmiinyi] Island, Boiko Towers, and landing in Crimea are maritime operations. It’s a different feeling, a different adrenaline,” the officer explained.

Russians manned all the gas platforms. But, when Ukrainian special forces approached to retake the rigs, the Russian troops offered little resistance. According to Tymur, his unit utilized more than just inflatable boats to reach the platforms, contrary to some media reports at the time. A Russian fighter jet also participated in the battle. The clash involving the Russian aircraft did occur, but later. 

“[The fighting against the Russian fighter jet] took place at a stage when we were heading to the next mission after the gas rigs,” the Ukrainian commander said.

Tymur’s special unit also took part in the landing in occupied Crimea on Ukraine’s Independence Day. A battle took place at Cape Tarkhankut, involving watercraft and aviation.

“The commanders aimed to raise our flag in Crimea on Independence Day. Citizens under occupation recognized our homecoming across kilometers of sea. We demonstrated solidarity with them, just as they showed theirs with us. Without public support, this would have been impossible,” said Tymur.

Ukrainian troops approached a building where Russian soldiers and a patrol vehicle were staying. The Ukrainians launched grenades, prompting the Russian personnel to flee the area. The Ukrainians then raised their national flag at the scene.

According to the Ukrainian commander, many troops were eager to participate in the mission, but there was limited space on the boats used. The commander stated that his forces intend to return to Crimea in the future.

Russia hijacked the gas drilling rigs B312 Petro Hodovanets and B319 Ukraina off the coast of Crimea in the Black Sea back in late 2015, after it invaded and occupied the Crimean peninsula.

According to Ukrainian intelligence, since 2022, Russia has been using the platforms as helicopter landing sites and for deploying radar equipment, exerting control over the Black Sea. 

Ukraine retook control of the gas platforms on 11 September 2023. 

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