Ukrainian Air Force Inflicts Significant Blow on Russian Navy in Crimea
In a recent turn of events, Russia has officially acknowledged that a Ukrainian airstrike has severely damaged a warship stationed in the occupied Crimean port of Feodosia. Ukrainian officials and their Western allies are hailing this as a major setback for the Russian navy. The targeted vessel, identified as the Novocherkassk landing ship, was reportedly destroyed in the attack, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky humorously noting on social media that the ship had now become part of the “Russian underwater Black Sea fleet.”
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu conveyed the extent of the damage to President Vladimir Putin, providing a detailed report on the incident. Ukraine claims the attack was carried out on a Russian navy ship harbored in the Russian-occupied Crimea, purportedly transporting drones intended for use in Moscow’s ongoing war efforts.
The Ukrainian air force, which executed the assault, announced the destruction of the Novocherkassk on the Telegram messaging platform. Tragically, one person lost their life, and four others sustained injuries in the attack, according to Sergey Aksyonov, the Moscow-installed governor of Crimea. Additionally, six buildings were damaged, leading to the evacuation of their residents. Aksyonov mentioned that a fire was ignited but had since been brought under control.
The annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, a move widely condemned as illegal by Ukraine and the West, set the stage for the ongoing tensions in the region. Feodosia, with a population of approximately 69,000 people, is situated on the southern coast of the Crimean Peninsula.
Ukrainian officials commended their military for the successful strike on the landing ship, suspected of transporting Iranian-made explosive drones frequently employed by Russia to attack Ukraine. Ukrainian commander Mykola Oleshchuk shared a video capturing the explosion at the Feodosia naval base, celebrating the diminishing size of the Russian fleet. President Zelensky expressed gratitude to the Ukrainian Air Force, emphasizing that occupiers would find no peaceful refuge in Ukraine.
The Black Sea, crucial for Ukraine’s grain exports, has become a key battleground in the ongoing conflict. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, based in Sevastopol, has been utilized by Moscow to attempt blockades along Ukraine’s coastline and launch missiles at Ukrainian cities. Ukraine has responded by intensifying attacks on Crimea, regaining limited control of the Black Sea and pushing Russian warships farther east at times.
Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force, cast doubt on the Novocherkassk’s ability to re-enter service, given the magnitude of the explosion. He noted that the detonation of munitions, not just a rocket, significantly diminishes a ship’s chances of survival. This attack underscores the increased capabilities and reach of the Ukrainian military, attributed to weapons supplied by Western allies, as reported by Al Jazeera’s Assed Baig from Kyiv.
Baig highlighted the tendency of both sides to exaggerate successes and downplay losses, a pattern observed since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Recent conflicting claims include Moscow asserting control over the eastern city of Maryinka, which Kyiv denies. Both nations have also claimed success in shooting down each other’s fighter planes while refuting any losses on their own side.
This latest incident follows Ukraine sinking the cruiser Moskva, the Soviet-era flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, in April 2022. Moscow attributed the sinking to a detonation of ammunition, causing a fire and forcing the crew to evacuate. Sergei Markov, a former Kremlin adviser, acknowledged the challenges of releasing detailed information during wartime but stressed the need for strengthening Crimea’s air defense systems and preventing further attacks on Russia.
In summary, the Ukrainian airstrike on the Novocherkassk landing ship marks a significant blow to the Russian navy, showcasing the heightened capabilities of Ukraine’s military. The ongoing conflict in the Black Sea region continues to be characterized by conflicting claims, strategic maneuvers, and escalating tensions between the two nations.