Satellite Photos Show Aftermath of Strike on Russian Black Sea Ships
Story by Brendan Cole
© Getty Images
Ukraine has released satellite imagery that it says shows the impact of a stealth drone attack on Russian Black Sea fleet ships in Crimea.
Kyiv’s military intelligence, the GUR, wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Friday that its naval drones had destroyed two small Russian landing boats near Uzka Bay, close to Chornomorsk, in the overnight attack, with both sinking to the bottom of the seabed. Newsweek is trying to substantiate these claims.
Kyiv has been stepping up its attacks on the peninsula, which it has vowed to recapture from Russia as one of its war aims. Satellite images from last month showed Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is fleeing from the port of Sevastopol in Crimea to Novorossiysk in Krasnodar Krai in southern Russia and the Russian naval port in Feodosia on the annexed peninsula, amid a string of targeted attacks.
Days earlier, on September 22, Kyiv launched a missile attack on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol, reportedly killing a number of leading officers.
The one-minute video released on Friday purports to show a drone approaching the two small Russian landing boats near Uzka Bay. This is followed by smoke rising up in the night sky. The GUR later released a satellite image, which it said shows a damaged vessel and a burnt pier. The vessels were identified as a Project 1176 Akula-class small landing ship and a Project 11770 Serna-class small landing ship. Newsweek has yet to verify independently the details of Friday’s video.
The GUR said that, as well as a crew being on board, the Serna-class vessel was loaded with armored vehicles, including BTR-82 armored personnel carriers.
Moscow has previously used Serna-class ships to provide cover for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet ships during raids when Russian forces lacked naval air-defense equipment, the GUR added.
The Kremlin-affiliated milblogger Rybar said that Ukraine carried out the strike using four unmanned boats in what had been one of three attacks on Crimea that day.
The channel added that Ukrainian forces had tried to conduct a drone strike on an oil depot in the town of Feodosia and a Neptune cruise missile strike on naval and intelligence bases in Chornomorsk. However, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that air defenses had managed to intercept these missiles. Newsweek has emailed the MoD for comment.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its update that Ukraine has been conducting an interdiction campaign against Russian military infrastructure in Crimea, in particular against the Black Sea Fleet since June.
This was an attempt “to degrade the Russian military’s ability to use Crimea as a staging and rear area for Russian operations in southern Ukraine,” the U.S.-based independent think tank added.
Alexander Musienko, head of the Kyiv-based Center for Military Legal Research, told Current Time TV that the strike was part of a systematic approach by Ukraine. He added that there were previous strikes on the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in September and the Kerch Bridge, this month.
“This is the implementation of a strategy to establish dominance on the part of Ukraine in the northwestern part of the Black Sea,” Musienko told the independent Russian-language news outlet.
“The purpose of these attacks is to demonstrate nothing other than naval warfare. And Ukraine is waging this naval war with the means that we have available, including surface drones,” Musienko added.
Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Ukraine’s former defense minister who now advises the country’s Defense Ministry, told Newsweek that Kyiv is planning to eventually liberate Crimea.
“The only way to get out of this situation is to destroy the Black Sea Fleet, to destroy their capability to pursue occupation of the Black Sea and restore freedom of navigation,” Zagorodnyuk said.
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