Ukraine has claimed responsibility for a major attack on a Russian Navy landing ship stationed in the occupied port city of Sevastopol in Crimea. The strikes resulted in significant damage and potentially dozens of casualties.
Attack on the Novocherkassk Landing Ship
According to Ukraine’s military and various international reports, Ukrainian forces launched a successful attack on the Russian Navy’s Project 775 (NATO reporting name Ropucha-class) large landing ship ‘Novocherkassk’ in occupied Sevastopol on December 26th.
The Novocherkassk was reportedly struck by two or more long-range missiles. Photos and videos emerging from Russian-occupied Crimea show huge explosions and a massive fire on the docked landing craft.
The Novocherkassk can carry over 300 troops, as well as up to 10 main battle tanks or other armored vehicles. If fully loaded, the loss of the vessel would be a major blow.
While details are still emerging, it appears the missiles struck critical parts of the ship, likely its fuel stores and ammunition supplies. Explosions onboard raged for hours after the initial strikes.
Scale of Damage and Casualties
Exact details on the extent of the damage and potential loss of life are unclear. However, the scale of the explosions and fires indicate major destruction.
Early reports suggested over 50 crew members could be dead or missing. The Russian Defense Ministry has officially recognized the attack but said the damage was minimal. Their figures cite only one death and five wounded.
Independent analysts believe Russia is dramatically downplaying the damage and casualties. It remains unclear if the ship will need extensive repairs or could be a total loss.
|Date of Attack
|December 26th, 2022
|Port of Sevastopol, Crimea
|Russian Ship Targeted
|Project 775 Landing Ship ‘Novocherkassk’
|Major – potentially catastrophic
|Reported Russian casualties
|1 dead, 5 injured (likely underestimate)
|Potential total casualties
|At least several dozen missing or killed based on video/photo evidence
Response from Russia and Likelihood of Retaliation
The attack and loss of life has shocked Russia. However, opportunities to retaliate against inland Ukrainian targets are becoming limited after months of extensive missile strikes.
Still, the loss of a capital warship in what Russia claims as its own sovereign territory in Crimea could provoke a serious response. The attack also further damages fleet prestige.
Russian pro-war commentators are incensed. However, realistic military options to proportionally respond without escalating to unconventional weapons seem slim.
Ukraine’s demonstrate ability to penetrate Russian fortified locations in Crimea also further damages Russia’s military credibility as a Black Sea power.
Impact on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and Ukraine’s Strategy
The successful strike continues Ukraine’s strategy of attacking Russian navy vessels throughout the Black Sea. In recent months, Ukraine has dealt several major blows, sinking the guided missile cruiser Moskva in April along with damaging several other ships.
By disabling Russia’s ability to leverage their Black Sea fleet, Ukraine aims to protect vital grain exports and enable more supplies to reach Ukraine’s southern regions.
With the Novocherkassk likely seriously disabled or destroyed, Ukraine may have knocked out over 20 percent of Russia’s Black Sea naval power. This could enable faster progress in defending against Russia’s stalled southern offensive.
Ukraine’s Western allies have been nearly unanimous in supporting Ukraine’s right to strike any military target in its internationally recognized territory. Crimea’s status remains disputed after the 2014 Russian annexation.
The successful strike has impressed Ukraine’s partners. Some conservative UK officials stated it shows why continuing advanced weapons provisions to Ukraine is vital and justified.
Overall, support for Ukraine defending against Russian aggression remains extremely high in Europe and the US. However, fears remain that too much Ukrainian success could cause Putin to escalate or resort to extreme measures. For now, strong Western backing continues as Ukraine utilizes newly provided systems to continue pressing its counteroffensive.
What Comes Next
Russia is likely still too committed to a wide-scale invasion of Ukraine to seriously seek a near or even medium-term diplomatic solution. As Ukraine considers more ambitious efforts to retake its occupied territory in 2023, the conflict shows no signs of decisively slowing even as both sides face mounting costs.
For Ukraine’s part, the recent attack highlights that even in disadvantageous battlefield situations like Russia’s entrenched locations in Crimea, innovative and risky strikes are possible. Further debilitating Russia’s Black Sea Fleet could open new opportunities to retake vital economic and agricultural areas in southern Ukraine.
With Russia’s position further weakened, at minimum the attack shows yet again that reports of Ukraine’s declining military fortunes have been greatly exaggerated. As new Western vehicles, tanks and advanced missile systems continue arriving, Ukraine seems poised to launch renewed offenses along several fronts in 2023.
Russia will work furiously to reinforce occupied areas and naval power while seeking new recruits. Still, as mounting casualties and stalled progress wears down public opinion, calls for further escalation or initiating a risky general mobilization seem unlikely to convince most weary Russians.
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.