Ukraine attacks Russian landing ship in Crimea, raising tensions

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Ukraine claimed that it had successfully targeted and destroyed a large Russian landing ship docked in a Crimean port overnight, The Washington Post reported. However, Russian officials acknowledged the assault but downplayed the extent of the damage, stating that the ship and nearby structures had sustained some harm. The Washington Post could not independently confirm the scale of the damage.

The Ukrainian Air Force said on its Telegram channel that the strike occurred at approximately 2:30 am local time (Tuesday) in the port of Feodosia, situated in eastern Crimea–a region annexed by Moscow in 2014 and under its occupation since. A video circulating on social media, depicted a fire followed by a massive explosion, aligning with the reported time and location of the attack, as reported by The Washington Post.

Throughout the conflict, Ukraine has consistently pursued air attacks on Russian ships and ports in Crimea and the Black Sea. This strategy aims to impede Russia’s movement of troops and weaponry in the region, seeking high-profile victories by targeting formidable and costly vessels. Notably, in April 2022, Ukraine claimed the sinking of the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva missile cruiser, providing a significant morale boost.

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Subsequent attacks targeted a shipyard and Russia’s navy headquarters in Sevastopol in September 2023, and another ship in the port of Kerch in November. The vessel purportedly destroyed on Tuesday is identified as the Novocherkassk, a 370-foot-long ship designed for amphibious assaults, capable of transporting 10 tanks and 340 personnel with a regular crew of 87. Ukraine’s military had previously claimed to have damaged the ship in May during another attack.

The Russian Defence Ministry countered, asserting that two Ukrainian SU-24 jets, allegedly responsible for the missile launch at the port, were shot down. However, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s air force refuted this claim in an interview with Radio Liberty, highlighting the frequent discrepancy between Russian claims of downed planes and the actual outcomes. As tensions escalate, the conflict strains Ukraine’s predominantly Soviet-era air force.

NATO allies, including Holland and Denmark, have committed to supplying US-made F-16 jets, yet the training of pilots to operate these aircraft is an ongoing process. The destruction of the Russian landing ship marks a critical development in the ongoing conflict, raising concerns about the intensification of hostilities in the region, The Washington Post reported.