In what appears to be another setback for the Russian Navy, the Ukrainian Air Force has claimed to have destroyed the Russian landing vessel Novocherkassk at a Russian naval base in Feodosia, Crimea.
The incident unfolded in the early hours of the morning on December 26, with numerous videos circulating on social media depicting a large fire in the port area.
Sergey Aksyonov, the head of Russia’s administration of Crimea, confirmed the attack at 3:16 a.m. According to Aksyonov, the fire was localized, and the detonation was controlled.
In response to the incident, the port area was cordoned off, and evacuation measures were initiated for residents of several houses, said Aksyonov.
However, at 03:47, Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk, Ukraine’s Air Force commander, shared compelling footage from Feodosia. He claimed that Ukrainian pilots had successfully destroyed the Russian Navy’s Novocherkassk large landing ship in the Black Sea.
“And Russia’s fleet is getting smaller and smaller! This time, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the cruiser Moskva (destroyed in 2022, – Ed.), is followed by the large landing craft ‘Novocherkassk,” Oleshchuk wrote.
“I thank the pilots of the Air Force and everyone involved for their filigree work!” Oleshchuk added.
The engagement of Ukraine’s Air Force implies the use of Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG missiles in the attack, underscoring the proficiency of the Ukrainian military in executing precision strikes against the Russian Navy.
Several reports claim that the targeted vessel was transporting Iranian ammunition, specifically Shahed drones. However, EurAsian Time cannot independently verify these assertions as of now.
Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, Mykola Oleshchuk, claims that Ukrainian forces successfully hit the Russian Ropucha Class landing ship Novocherkassk in the port of Feodosia, Crimea, resulting in its destruction. pic.twitter.com/J6fBdFrK9C
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) December 26, 2023
The Novocherkassk had previously sustained damage at the Berdiansk port in March 2022, and during the same attack, another sizable landing ship, the Saratov, was also destroyed.
Dr. Malcolm Davis, Senior Analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, has highlighted that although Ukrainians may encounter difficulties due to the hesitancy of Western states in providing aid, Kyiv retains the capability to deliver a powerful counterstrike.
As of now, there are no official reports on the number of casualties, but there are claims that several Russian Navy soldiers could have lost their lives in the attack.
Ukraine’s Success In Striking Russian Navy
The strike on the Russian landing vessel Novocherkassk signifies a notable achievement in Ukraine’s ongoing efforts to counter Russian forces in Crimea.
The strike further underscores the capabilities of the Ukrainian Air Force, which is adept at penetrating even well-defended Russian targets, and this achievement becomes all the more noteworthy in light of prevailing concerns about diminished weapon aid from friendly nations.
While the full extent of the damage remains unclear, Ukrainian military officers claim to have successfully sunk the Novocherkassk.
It is crucial to approach these claims with caution, as both Ukraine and Russia have a track record of exaggerating losses since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has recently asserted that Kyiv has successfully rebalanced the power dynamics in the Black Sea, seizing the initiative from Moscow.
This shift holds strategic significance, especially considering Russia’s perspective on Crimea as strategically vital to its interests. Ukraine has consistently carried out strikes in Crimea.
Ukraine’s military endeavors in the Black Sea have expanded to include targeting vital Russian facilities, evidenced by previous strikes on the Russian Black Sea Navy headquarters in Sevastopol and the shipyard in Kerch.
The latest apparent success in striking a Russian Navy vessel marks one of the most significant hits since Ukrainian forces sank the Moskva, the flagship of Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet, in the early months of the conflict.
Last month, Ukraine claimed that its military operations have led to the destruction of 15 Russian naval vessels in the Black Sea since the start of Russia’s invasion, with an additional 12 vessels reportedly damaged.
The increased frequency of attacks in the Black Sea and on Crimea underscores Ukraine’s efforts to challenge Russian forces in the region.
The Ukrainian Navy spokesperson, Dmytro Pletenchuk, characterized Ukraine as a “driver of a new type of naval warfare,” leading to Russia’s strategic response in repositioning its naval forces to more challenging locations.
However, from a logistical standpoint, Russia is encountering difficulties as it relocates vessels to Novorossiysk and periodically to Tuapse, ports situated on the eastern flank of the Black Sea, southeast of Crimea, and farther away from Ukraine.