Ukrainian drone attacks Russian warship on the Black Sea

August 4, 2023

A Russian warship was damaged overnight Thursday in a Ukrainian drone attack off the port of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea.

The civilian port, which handles about 2% of the world’s oil supply as well as some grain exports, temporarily paused all ship movements before resuming normal operations. 

Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a short statement that the Ukrainian attack by two sea drones had been repelled in the waters outside the base and that the drones had been destroyed. It made no mention of any damage.

Video from the drone itself, however, appears to show the moment of impact. According to open sources, the Olenegorsky Gornyak, a Russian Navy landing ship, could potentially have been armed with 2 twin 57 mm AK-725 artillery mounts, 2 launchers of the A-215 Grad-M MLRS, 4 launchers of the Strela-2 portable air defense system. It can carry up to 500 tons of equipment and cargo.

Additional video taken in the aftermath of the drone strike appears to show the warship “sinking while it is being towed.” One Ukrainian intelligence source told Reuters that the warship suffered a serious breach that would prevent it from conducting combat missions.

The intel source claimed the attack was part of a joint operation by the Ukrainian Navy and Ukraine’s SBU intelligence service.

The sea drone was reportedly carrying 450 kilograms (992 pounds) of TNT when it attacked the warship, which had a crew of around 100 onboard. 

The attack comes as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Russia of “using food as a weapon of war in Ukraine” in its own attacks on Ukrainian grain supplies and ports since the Kremlin abandoned the 2022 U.N.-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative in mid-July.

Recent Russian attacks, including on the Ukrainian port cities of Odesa and Mykolaiv on the Black Sea, as well as this week’s attack Izmail across the Danube River from Romania, caused a 40% drop in Ukrainian grain exports last month, much of which goes to countries struggling with food insecurity in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Ukraine supplies 10% of the world wheat market, 15% of the corn market, and 13% of the barley market. As a result of Russia’s targeting of the ports, the United Nations’ World Food Program has had to cut back on aid to refugees in the Middle East. 

Russian officials have said their actions are in “retribution” for a deadly explosion on the Kerch Bridge, the only direct access way from the annexed Crimean peninsula to the Russian mainland. Ukrainian forces have claimed responsibility for that attack.

The Russia Defense Ministry, meanwhile, has reported an uptick in attempted Ukrainian naval drone attacks on its warships in the Black Sea. 

The ministry further said that along with the attack Novorossiysk, Russia had repelled an attempted Ukrainian attack on Crimea using at least 13 aerial drones.

PHOTO: Sea Drone Video seconds before impact

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