Ukraine scored a major victory against Russia’s Black Sea fleet on February 1st, 2024 by sinking the missile corvette Ivanovets. The successful attack demonstrates Ukraine’s growing naval capabilities and deals a symbolic and tactical blow to Russia.
Attack Carried Out by Naval Drones
According to Ukraine’s military and video footage, the attack was conducted using unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), also known as naval drones. At least two drones laden with explosives impacted the ship’s hull below the waterline.
The Ivanovets was patrolling near the Crimean port of Sevastopol when the stealth attack occurred. The ship’s automated systems likely failed to detect and intercept the small, fast-moving drones.
Ivanovets Suffers Catastrophic Damage
Video released by Ukraine shows a massive explosion erupting from the Ivanovets, enveloping the ship in smoke and fire.
The vessel quickly took on water through the holes torn in her hull and sank soon after. Up to 40 of her crew may have gone down with the ship.
The loss of the high-tech Ivanovets corvette, displacing about 800 tons, deals a heavy blow to Russia’s Black Sea capabilities.
Ukraine Demonstrates Growing Naval Prowess
The daring drone strike demonstrates Ukraine’s increasing competence with advanced weaponry supplied by Western allies.
Naval drones allow Ukraine to strike Russian ships that previously operated with impunity, forcing Russia’s navy to rethink tactics.
|Number in Russian Navy
The attack also shows Ukraine’s skill in assimilating diverse weapons into an effective fighting force. As commander-in-chief V. Zaluzhny commented, Ukraine “creatively combines weapons from partners into an effective system.”
Outlook: Russia to Escalate Missile Strikes
Humiliated by the loss of Ivanovets, Russia is likely to retaliate with intensified cruise missile and rocket attacks against Ukrainian cities and infrastructure.
These strikes aim to degrade Ukraine’s combat abilities by destroying power plants and other critical facilities civilians depend on through the winter.
Further Russian naval losses could also prompt additional missile barrages. Meanwhile, Ukraine will work to acquire more anti-ship weapons to consolidate control over the northwest Black Sea.
Ukraine Calls for More Military Aid
Buoyed by recent wins, Ukraine is increasing calls for additional weapons like tanks and missiles from supporters.
“Weapons should be provided faster,” declared Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Alexey Reznikov after the Ivanovets sank.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized missiles with enough range to reach Crimea are vital to victory.
Some US lawmakers worry new restrictions on military assistance could undermine Ukraine’s momentum.
While Russia still retains overall military superiority, the sinking of the Ivanovets shows Ukraine can threaten areas like Crimea Putin previously considered secure with the right equipment.
Background: Russia’s Black Sea Fleet
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet plays a central role supplying forces occupying southern Ukraine and launching kalibr cruise missiles.
Stationed in Sevastopol, Crimea since 1783, the fleet also ensures Russian control over the economically vital Black Sea.
In 2024, it fields about 40 combat ships and dozens of support vessels – down from over 50 following losses in the war. Replacing destroyed ships is challenging due to Western sanctions.
Timeline of Recent Attacks
Ukraine has stepped up attacks in the Black Sea since receiving Naval drones and anti-ship missiles from allies in late 2023. Notable recent strikes include:
October 2023: Ukraine uses Harpoon missiles to damage a Russian patrol ship.
November 2023: Ukrainian missiles badly damage a minesweeper.
January 2024: A USV drone damages a Russian frigate near Sevastopol.
These strikes helped set conditions for the successful attack on the Ivanovets using new tactics.
This story shows Ukraine is gaining strength on multiple fronts, including at sea with long-range weapons. Sinking the Ivanovets battleship demonstrates their ability to threaten even Crimea and the Russian navy’s base of operations. However, Russia still retains overall military superiority and the losses may intensify missile attacks against Ukrainian cities this winter.
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