Russian naval ship in Crimea damaged in airstrike by Ukrainian forces, Russian Defence Ministry says

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Russian naval ship in Crimea was damaged in an airstrike by Ukrainian forces, Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday. The landing ship Novocherkassk was hit at a base in the city of Feodosia by plane-launched guided missiles, the ministry said, adding that two Ukrainian fighter jets were destroyed by anti-aircraft fire during the attack. Over the past several months, Ukrainian forces have conducted attacks around Crimea, 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. The Russia-appointed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, said one person was killed in the attack. “The Russian fleet has become smaller,” Ukrainian Air Force Cmdr. Mykola Oleschuk said in a mocking message on the Telegram app. He urged Russians to leave Crimea – which Russia annexed in 2014 – “while it’s not too late”.

The ministry did not specify the extent to which the Russian ship was damaged, but videos circulating on Ukrainian channels showed a large fire in the port area. Ukrainian authorities claimed the ship was destroyed and said it was likely carrying an ammunitions shipment, possibly including drones. “We saw how powerful were the blast and detonation. It’s extremely difficult for a ship to survive something like that,” Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat said on Radio Liberty. Ihnat denied that Ukrainian planes were shot down in the attack.

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Landing ships such as the Novocherkassk “are now used by the enemy almost constantly as logistics facilities, as transportation of important cargo”, the spokesperson for Ukraine’s military southern command, Nataliya Gumenyuk, was quoted as saying by the UNIAN news agency. The Novocherkassk was damaged in an attack in March 2022, about a month after the war started, but Ihnat said it has been recently used to transport weapons and soldiers to the Zaporizhzhia region, which is partly held by Russian forces.

The Ukrainian air force’s Tuesday morning update said Russia launched 19 drones, mostly against the Odesa and Mykolaiv regions – 13 of which were shot down – over the past night. The remaining drones caused infrastructure damage, but no casualties were reported, according to Ukraine’s presidential office.