US missiles massacre beachgoers in Crimea, as US says Ukraine can strike “anywhere” in Russia

Four people were killed and 144 were injured Sunday when a US-made long-range missile fired from Ukraine released cluster bomblets over a busy beach in Sevastopol, Crimea.

Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev said 82 people were hospitalized and 27 children were injured.

Rubble and scattered beach toys on Sevastopol beach following missile attack, June 23, 2024. [Photo: RT]

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed the targeting of the beachgoers was “deliberate,” saying:

Responsibility for the deliberate missile attack on the civilians of Sevastopol is borne above all by Washington, which supplied these weapons to Ukraine, and by the Kyiv regime, from whose territory this strike was carried out.

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that four US Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles were shot down mid-air over Crimea, and that one released its bomblets, killing and wounding the beachgoers. It claimed that the coordinates for the ATACMS missiles were transmitted by US spy satellites.

“Fallen cluster munitions hit the beach. There is a high density of people there, hence there are so many victims,” one Russian think tank analyst told Sputnik News.

Sputnik reported: “At the moment when ATACMS were launched at Sevastopol, a US RQ-4 Global Hawk long-range surveillance drone was detected over the Black Sea.”

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for Russia to retaliate, saying he hopes the “USA” will “burn in hell ... in earthly fire.” Medvedev declared: “The bastards from the USA supply missiles with cluster charges to [Ukrainian fascist Stepan] Bandera’s supporters and help guide them to the target.”

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill noted that the attack occurred on the Eastern Orthodox holiday of Trinity Sunday, declaring: “There was no justification whatsoever for a missile strike on civilians.”

The assault on Sevastopol is the latest in a series of escalatory moves by the US intended to open the entirety of Russia up for strikes by US-provided weapons launched from Ukraine.

In April, the Biden administration began supplying Ukraine with long-range ATACMS missiles, which have a 300-kilometer (186-mile) range, while claiming they would not be used for strikes inside Russia itself.

Last month, the US expanded the rules of engagement for its weapons, with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan declaring that Ukrainian forces were free to target Russian forces “anywhere” inside Russia.

In an interview with PBS, Sullivan was asked if US permission to strike Russia “extends beyond the Kharkiv region, including into the Sumy region where Russian forces have also been targeting Ukraine?” Sullivan replied:

It extends to anywhere that Russian forces are coming across the border from the Russian side to the Ukrainian side to try to take additional Ukrainian territory. That has happened in Kharkiv, and we’ve seen initial indications that Russia has made exploratory moves across in Sumy. And so it would apply there as well. This is not about geography. ... If Russia is attacking or about to attack from its territory into Ukraine, it only makes sense to allow Ukraine to hit back against the forces that are hitting it from across the border.

In 2022, Biden published an op-ed in the New York Times titled, “What America Will and Will Not Do in Ukraine,” which declared: “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.”

In May, the New York Times explained the implications of Biden’s decision to allow Ukraine to strike deep inside Russia, stating:

Since the first American shipments of sophisticated weapons to Ukraine, President Biden has never wavered on one prohibition: President Volodymyr Zelensky had to agree to never fire them into Russian territory, insisting that would violate Mr. Biden’s mandate to “avoid World War III.” But the consensus around that policy is fraying.

The strike follows the announcement by the White House earlier this month that the US is moving to abandon all numerical constraints on the deployment of nuclear weapons.

All these escalatory moves form the backdrop of the upcoming July 9-11 NATO summit in Washington, which is expected to announce a major expansion of direct US/NATO involvement and participation in the Ukraine war, including the possible deployment of ground troops.

In May, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Charles Q. Brown told the New York Times that the NATO military alliance will “eventually” send significant numbers of active-duty NATO troops to Ukraine, which the newspaper said meant the deployment was “inevitable.”

The latest attack came as the Ukrainian government continued to press more people to fight on the front lines. In a rare honest portrayal of the terror to which Ukraine’s young men are subjected, the New York Times reported that “as officers scour the country’s cities to draft men of military age, currently 25 to 60, many young men have gone into hiding, fearful that conscription is a one-way ticket to the front line.”

The Times quoted one 28-year-old web developer as saying: “I’m afraid I won’t get enough training, and then I’ll be moved closer to the front and then I’ll die senselessly.”

The Times commented:

Those fears are backed by some military analysts, who say that Ukrainian troops often lack adequate training, which makes it difficult for Kyiv to hold its lines as they are quickly sent into battle to replace combat losses.

Amid the escalating NATO-backed attacks inside Russia, there are indications that the Russian government is moving to change its official military doctrine to make the decision to launch nuclear weapons more rapid.

On Sunday, RIA Novosti quoted Andrei Kartapolov, the head of the Russian lower house of parliament’s defense committee, who raised the prospect of changing the terms under which nuclear weapons can be used.

“If we see that the challenges and threats increase, it means that we can correct something in (the doctrine) regarding the timing of the use of nuclear weapons and the decision to make this use,” RIA quoted Kartapolov as saying.