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May 23, 2024

Ukraine Sinks Russian Missile Ship Near Crimea

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Feb 2, 2024

Ukraine has claimed another victory against Russian forces by apparently sinking the Russian missile corvette Ivanovets near the coast of Russian-annexed Crimea. This latest attack demonstrates Ukraine’s increasing capabilities with new technology like naval drones, and deals another blow to Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

Attack Near Sevastopol Using Naval Drones

According to statements from Ukraine’s military, the attack took place overnight on January 31st in an area of the Black Sea near Sevastopol, the port city in Crimea where the Russian Black Sea fleet is based.

Video circulated on social media appears to show an unmanned surface vehicle (USV), also known as a naval drone, approaching and striking the ship with an explosive:

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Video showing naval drone attack on Russian ship. Credit: Ukrainian Military

Ukraine has been using these types of drones effectively in recent months to target Russian ships and infrastructure. The technology allows them to conduct attacks without putting Ukrainian personnel directly in harm’s way.

Details are still emerging about exactly how the attack unfolded, but it seems likely that multiple drones were used based on the presence of additional explosions visible in the video.

Sinking Deals Major Blow to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet

The loss of the Ivanovets corvette deals a major blow to Russia’s Black Sea naval capabilities, which were already degraded from losses earlier in the conflict.

By some accounts, Russia has now lost over 20% of its total tonnage in the Black Sea fleet. This limits Russia’s ability to control that area of the conflict theater.

The Ivanovets was considered one of Russia’s more advanced missile ships:

Ship Characteristics Details
Class Project 1234 “Nanuchka III” missile corvette
Displacement About 1,000 tons
Armament 8 Kh-35 anti-ship missiles, AK-630 close-in weapon system
Year Commissioned 2016

With its anti-ship missiles and high speed, it played an important role in Russia’s efforts to impose a blockade on Ukraine’s coast. Taking it out of action will make that blockade less effective.

Ukraine Advancing New Technology and Tactics

This latest attack also highlights how Ukraine is pioneering new technology and tactics to take on Russia’s navy.

The naval drones thought to be used in the attack likely fall into a class of vessels known as unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). These are fast, small boats that can be operated remotely like drones:

USV Naval Drone

An unmanned surface vehicle (USV) naval drone launched from Ukraine’s coast. Credit: Ukrainian Military

Key attributes include:

  • Remote controlled from land stations up to 200 km away
  • Can travel at high speeds 50+ knots
  • Low radar visibility makes hard to detect
  • Can coordinate swarm attacks in groups

USVs give Ukraine a deadly and hard to stop naval capability despite Russia’s larger navy. They allow precision strikes on targets like the Ivanovets with less risk to Ukrainian personnel.

Drone boats are one example of how Ukraine is having to innovate with limited resources against Russia’s military machine. Other examples include using modified commercial drones for reconnaissance and targeting.

Military experts anticipate Ukraine will expand its use of drone technology as the war progresses. Russia in turn will likely have to focus more counter-drone defenses surrounding bases and ships.

Russia Responds with Denials and Counter-Claim

In the aftermath of the attack, Russia responded by downplaying or denying reports that the Ivanovets had been destroyed.

Russian officials called Ukraine’s claims “fake news” and stated all ships in the Black Sea fleet were accounted for. However, most independent analyses indicate the ship was indeed taken out of commission.

Moscow did confirm losing an aircraft near Sevastopol around the same time as the purported attack. But they claimed Ukrainian ballistic missiles were responsible brought down by Russian defenses:

“Russian air defense forces shot down a Ukrainian ballistic missile launched at the city of Sevastopol by the US-made HIMARS MLRS(???) No civilian infrastructure was damaged.”

This statement seems to be face-saving propaganda intended to save-face and attribute the losses to Ukrainian ballistic missiles rather than the naval drone attack. Credible reports indicate no such missiles were incoming at the time.

Broader Context and What Comes Next

The sinking of the Ivanovets comes amidst continued heavy fighting along the southern front as Ukraine pushes to reclaim territory Russia captured early in the war.

Just yesterday, Ukraine claimed its forces had destroyed or disabled 112 Russian tanks in battles across the regions. Ongoing back-and-forth battles have resulted in thousands of casualties on both sides in recent weeks according to intelligence estimates.

In that context, the naval drone strike can be seen as part of Ukraine’s strategy to weaken Russia’s military capabilities through precision attacks on hardware and bases. This complements advances on the ground to reoccupy cities and then solidify those gains.

Many experts anticipate Ukraine will launch further naval drone and missile strikes around Russian-occupied Crimea in the coming weeks and months. The goal will be to degrade Russia’s Black Sea capabilities to help enable a counter-offensive aimed at retaking southern Ukraine.

Russia will likely bolster defenses of remaining ships and infrastructure around Crimea and Sevastopol to mitigate future losses. But Ukraine seems to have momentum and initiative with new technology allowing precisely targeted strikes.

The war is likely to drag on many more months, with both sides continuing to absorb heavy losses. But this latest strike demonstrates Ukraine’s determination and ingenuity in chipping away at Russia’s manpower and weapons.

AiBot

AiBot

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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