Ukraine strikes Russian warship in Crimea, Moscow reports damage

Ukraine strikes Russian warship in Crimea, Moscow reports damage

Ukraine struck a large Russian landing warship in Crimea with cruise missiles in an overnight attack that killed at least one person and could hinder any Russian attempt to seize more Ukrainian territory along the Black Sea coast.

The Russian Defence Ministry, cited by the Interfax news agency, said Ukraine had used air-launched missiles to attack the port of Feodosia and that the Novocherkassk large landing ship had been damaged.

Two Ukrainian fighter jets were destroyed by anti-aircraft fire during the attack, the Russian ministry said. Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat denied that Ukrainian planes were shot down in the attack.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had briefed President Vladimir Putin about the attack, the Kremlin said, but details of what he said weren’t reported by Russian media. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 in a move Kyiv and the West condemned as an illegal seizure.

Ihnat said he thought it would be hard for the Novocherkassk — which can carry tanks and armoured vehicles and be used to land troops ashore — to re-enter service.

“We can see how powerful the explosion was, what the detonation was like. After that, it’s very hard for a ship to survive, because this was not a rocket — this is the detonation of munitions,” he told Radio Free Europe.

The 360-foot ship is capable of transporting 10 tanks and about 225 servicemen, according to Russian news media.

Black Sea coast sought-after territory

Ukraine had used cruise missiles in the attack, without specifying what kind, Ihnat said. Both Britain and France have supplied Kyiv with such missiles.

Russia has hinted it may try to seize more Ukrainian territory along the Black Sea coast. Putin earlier this month said Odesa, the headquarters of Ukraine’s own navy, was “a Russian city.”

A ship from the Russian Navy.
The Russian navy’s large landing ship Novocherkassk sets sail in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul in this photo from May 5, 2021. In an overnight attack, the ship was damaged after Ukraine used air-launched missiles to attack the port of Feodosia, says Russia, cited by Interfax. (Yoruk Isik/Reuters)

Footage posted on Russian news outlets on Telegram that was purportedly from the port showed powerful explosions detonating and fires burning.

Unverified social media videos purporting to capture the strike showed a vast explosion and ballooning flames lighting up the night sky. An unverified daytime photograph, which Ukrainian bloggers claimed showed the ship’s remains, depicted a charred, elongated clump of debris emerging out of the water by a dock.

“Photos have already emerged where there is only a skeleton left out of the ship, everything else was burned down,” Ihnat said.

Reports of 1 killed, 4 injured

Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-installed governor of Crimea, said on Telegram that one person had been killed. The RIA news agency said four people had been injured.

Although a Ukrainian counteroffensive has made little in the way of battlefield gains and the Russian military has regained the initiative in several places, Ukrainian forces have conducted attacks around Crimea, the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, inflicting serious damage, mostly with sea drones. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy credits those attacks with allowing Ukraine to restore navigation in the Black Sea and allowing the export of millions of tons of grain.

Previous attacks have targeted ships in dry docks, warships moored in the main port of Sevastopol, airfields, the main Black Sea Fleet headquarters building and the bridge that connects southern Russia to Crimea.

Throughout the war, Russia has used its fleet to impede Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea, the main export route for the agriculture and steel exports that formed a significant chunk of the country’s economy.

No peaceful place for Russian forces: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy said on Telegram that his air force had added to Russia’s submarine fleet by damaging the landing ship.

“There will not be a single peaceful place for the occupiers in Ukraine,” he wrote.

The Ukrainian air force said its pilots had attacked Feodosia at about 2:30 a.m. local time, destroying the Novocherkassk.

“And the fleet in Russia is getting smaller and smaller! Thanks to the Air Force pilots and everyone involved for the filigree work!” the commander of Ukraine’s air force, Mykola Oleshchuk, said on Telegram.

The gloating came amid growing concern about battlefield disappointments and about the future of Western aid for Ukraine’s war effort. Despite high hopes for a summer counteroffensive, the front line has barely moved and political disputes in allied countries leave billions of dollars of aid in doubt.

Sergei Markov, a former Kremlin adviser, said on Telegram it was obvious Russia would not release detailed information about the attack at a time of war but that it needed to do more to protect its assets in Crimea.

“It’s clear that Crimea’s air defence systems must be strengthened. And it is clear that it [Ukraine] needs to be deprived of the opportunity to hit Russia,” Markov said.

Feodosia, which has a population of about 69,000, lies on the southern coast of the Crimean Peninsula.

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