Published On: Tue, Dec 26th, 2023

Ukraine strikes key Russian warship in Crimea ‘killing dozens’, Kyiv announces | World | News

A Ukrainian airstrike hit and “destroyed” a key Russian warship in occupied Crimea yesterday, “killing dozens”, Kyiv said.

Footage filmed by residents showed a huge explosion and inferno on the Novocherkassk landing vessel, part of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

The docked warship was understood to have been loaded with munitions when the guided missile pounded into its side at 2.50am.

Unconfirmed reports said the Ukrainian strike on the Black Sea port of Feodosia involved a Storm Shadow long-range missile – the type supplied by Britain – or possibly the French variant SCALP EG.

Last night, pro-Russia political analyst Sergey Markov, a staunch supporter of President Vladimir Putin, implied British-supplied weaponry was responsible.

He said: “In fact, it was not Ukraine, but Britain that struck the port of Feodosia. This is a war between Britain and Russia at the hands of the Ukrainian proxy army. And Britain will continue this war because Russia does not answer to Britain.”

British Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said Moscow had lost a fifth of its Black Sea Fleet in four months, tweeting: “This latest destruction of Putin’s navy demonstrates that those who believe there’s a stalemate in the Ukraine war are wrong. They haven’t noticed that over the past four months 20% of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has been destroyed.

Russia’s dominance in the Black Sea is now challenged and the new UK and Norway led Maritime Capability Coalition is helping to ensure Ukraine will win at sea.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the strike, saying: “Grateful to our Air Force for the spectacular addition of another vessel to the Russian sunken Black Sea Fleet.”

Lt-Gen Mykola Oleshchuk, commander of Ukraine’s air force, said the Novocherkassk – previously damaged in an attack last year – had been obliterated, posting on social media: “And the fleet in Russia is getting smaller and smaller! Thanks to the Air Force pilots and everyone involved for the filigree work!”

The Crimean Wind Telegram channel reported: “As we are informed, there are dozens of dead and wounded on the Novocherkassk landing ship. Ambulances are rushing back and forth.”

Windows in residential blocks close to the port were blown out and authorities evacuated people from nearby.

Moscow’s Ministry of Defence confirmed the hit but disputed reports of “dozens dead” or Ukraine’s claim that the ship had been destroyed.

The Putin-appointed head of annexed Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, claimed just one person was killed in the attack and six hurt, while six buildings were damaged and a small number of people taken to temporary accommodation.

He added: “I keep the situation under personal control. I ask you to remain calm and trust only official information.”

The strike will be seen as the latest major blow to Putin’s Black Sea Fleet. It took the Kremlin a year to admit it had lost the landing ship Saratov in a missile strike in the Sea of Azov. Ukrainian forces also destroyed the new missile carrier Askold, the flagship Moskva frigate and the fleet’s headquarters, while strikes severely damaged the attack submarine Rostov-o-Don and large landing ship Minsk.

The Novocherkassk is believed to be one of only a few warships Russia had not moved east, further from Ukraine’s missile range.

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