Ukraine’s military intelligence says it sank a Russian warship off the coast of Crimea overnight into Thursday, landing the latest in a series of blows to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet after mounting a “massive” missile attack on the occupied peninsula hours earlier.
Russia’s guided missile ship, the “Ivanovets,” suffered multiple hits to its hull before it sank overnight in the harbor of Lake Donuzlav, Crimea’s deepest lake, Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence said.
Russia’s Defense Ministry, the Kremlin and other Russian officials have not yet commented on the incident.
The sinking of the Ivanovets is the latest in a series of Ukrainian strikes on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, as it attempts to land both strategic and symbolic blows against Russian forces that annexed Crimea in 2014.
Ukraine has previously said its strikes on Crimea and on Russian ships are intended to try to isolate the peninsula and make it more difficult for Russia to sustain its military operations on the Ukrainian mainland, where the front lines have remained mostly static for months.
The most notable of its strikes was the attack on the Moskva in April 2022, which forced Russia to change the way it operates close to areas controlled by Ukraine. The vessel became infamous after it threatened to bomb Snake Island in the Black Sea if the Ukrainian soldiers defending it did not surrender. “Russian warship, go f*** yourself,” one of the soldiers responded.
The strike on the Ivanovets came hours after Ukraine on Wednesday launched a barrage of missiles at Crimea, in what Ukraine’s Air Force Commander described as part of “the cleansing of Crimea from the Russian presence.”
Ukraine launched 20 airborne guided missiles at Crimea, with Russian air defenses destroying 17 of them over the Black Sea and three more over the peninsula, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry. It said some of the missiles were intercepted close to the Belbek airfield near the city of Sevastopol.
“Our military repelled a massive attack on Sevastopol,” the Russia-appointed governor of the city Mikhail Razvozhaev said Wednesday, adding more than six missiles were shot down.
Razvozhaev said about a dozen buildings were hit by falling debris, which resulted in broken windows and other damage, but no injuries were reported.
The Belbek airfield was formerly the base of Ukraine’s 204th Tactical Aviation Brigade, Mykola Oleshchuk, Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, said Wednesday in a Telegram post, accompanied by video of an explosion.
“Ukrainian aviators will definitely return home to their home airfield. In the meantime, I thank everyone who contributed to the cleansing of Crimea from the Russian presence,” Oleshchuk said.
Yurii Ihnat, spokesman for the Air Force Command, on Thursday echoed those comments, saying “certain facilities on the peninsula were hit.”
The attacks come as speculation swirls about the possible firing of the Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, following weeks of growing speculation over tensions with President Volodymyr Zelensky.