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  4. One killed as Ukraine strikes Russian warship on Black Sea port in Crimea, Moscow admits damage

One killed as Ukraine strikes Russian warship on Black Sea port in Crimea, Moscow admits damage

Ukraine claimed that it destroyed the 'Novocherkassk' landing ship, however, the Russian defence ministry reported that the ship was damaged after Kyiv launched air-launched missiles to attack the Crimean port of Feodosia. Crimea governor Sergei Aksyonov said that one person was killed.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Moscow Published on: December 26, 2023 18:51 IST
Russian Navy's Novocherkassk large landing ship.
Image Source : REUTERS Russian Navy's Novocherkassk large landing ship.

A large Russian landing warship was struck by cruise missiles as part of a major attack by Ukraine in a Black Sea port in Crimea, killing at least one person and injuring several others. The attack sent a strong reply to Russia's offensive against Kyiv and could hinder any attempt by Moscow to seize any more Ukrainian territory along the Black Sea coast.

Earlier, Ukraine claimed that it destroyed the 'Novocherkassk' landing ship, however, the Russian defence ministry reported that the ship was damaged after Kyiv launched air-launched missiles to attack the Crimean port of Feodosia.

Unverified social media videos purporting to capture the strike showed a vast explosion and ballooning flames lighting up the night sky. Footage posted on Russian news outlets on Telegram, purportedly from the port, also showed powerful explosions detonating and fires burning.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-installed governor of Crimea, said on Telegram that one person had been killed. The RIA news agency later reported that at least four people had been injured. Ukraine has launched a series of attacks on Crimea, the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, inflicting serious damage, despite little gains on the battlefield.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy quipped 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.

Earlier, the Ukrainian air force said its pilots had attacked Feodosia at about 0230 (0030 GMT), 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 'Novocherkassk', which was built in Poland and entered service in the late 1980s, is designed for amphibious landings and can carry various types of armoured vehicles, including tanks.

Russia-Ukraine fighting

According to the Kremlin, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had briefed President Vladimir Putin in detail about the attack. Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Yuriy 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 said to Radio Free Europe. Both Britain and France have supplied Kyiv with cruise missiles in the fight against Russia.

This comes after Russia hinted at plans to seize more Ukrainian territory along the Black Sea coast. Putin earlier this month said that Odessa, the headquarters of Ukraine's own navy, was "a Russian city."

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

Sergei Markov, a former Kremlin adviser, said on Telegram it was obvious that Russia would not release detailed information about the attack at a time of war, but said Russia 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 around 69,000 people, lies on the southern coast of the Crimean Peninsula. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 in a move Kyiv and the West condemned as an illegal seizure.

(with inputs from Reuters)

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