Ukraines daring Crimea jet ski raid that SAS told them was mission impossible

Ukrainian forces managed to pull off a death-defying jet ski raid into Russian territory after the SAS warned them it would be "impossible".

The daring mission into Crimea was filmed on August 24 – Ukraine's independence day. Ukraine's defence ministry said it marked the first time their soldiers had set foot on the Russian-occupied peninsula since Vladimir Putin annexed it in 2014.

A battalion commander named only as Borghese revealed how his men landed on a beach near the village of Olenivka shortly before 5am. Some 20 Ukrainian fighters made the jet ski trip across the treacherous Black Sea.

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Their target was a Russian military base. They were supported by Ukrainian ships firing machine guns and rockets in order to create a distraction.

The original plan was to plant explosives around the base, make a swift exit and blow it up from a distance. But that all changed when a member of the team was spotted and a firefight broke out.

Borghese told The Times they instead "decided simply to destroy the control centre from a distance with anti-tank weapons, damage the antennae and withdraw".

The group said they managed to cause significant damage and take out a number of military vehicles during the initial 30 minutes of fighting. It was then that the order to withdraw was reportedly given by the group's leader, named as Levan.

Footage shows Ukrainian fighters attaching their flag to the walls of a single-storey wooden building. It is unclear whether this footage was shot as they arrived or as they were leaving.

The Russians deployed high-speed Raptor patrol boats to pursue the team, but they instead targeted a Ukrainian naval vessel as it rushed back to the mainland. The jet skis managed to escape as the support boats unleashed Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, protecting them from aerial attacks.

Levan told The Times: "The Russian aircraft were over us for four hours, maybe more because they were rotating.

"There were a certain number of enemy aircraft that would enter the area, circle, hit different points, then turn around. It was like that for four to five hours non-stop."

With the help of some cloudy weather, the jet skis made their escape unscathed. British SAS troops and intelligence officers, believed to be training Ukrainian forces and assisting with planning, initially advised against the plan according to Levan. They apparently believed the jet skis would struggle with the amount of distance that needed covering.

Levan said: "At sea, they know and understand a lot, but even for our British partners this looked like an almost impossible task. Neither the Americans nor the Brits gave us much chance of success."

The daring mission has since been followed up by subsequent Ukrainian attacks on Russian positions on Crimea. Recently, Russia's Black Sea Fleet command headquarters was targeted. The Ukrainians claim they killed dozens of Putin's senior officers.

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