Ukrainian sea drones sink another Russian warship near Crimea

Russia pounds eastern Ukraine and introduces law to take assets from critics of war

Ukrainian forces sank another Russian warship in the Black Sea using explosive marine drones as Moscow’s military launched heavy ground and air attacks on eastern Ukraine and vital US aid to Kyiv continued to hang in the balance.

Kyiv’s GUR military intelligence service released footage on Wednesday that it said showed several Ukrainian-made “Magura” marine drones weaving towards Russia’s Tsezar Kunikov large landing ship, followed by explosions and what appeared to be pictures of the vessel lying on its side off the coast of Crimea, which the Kremlin illegally annexed in 2014.

GUR said Russia had used the ship during military action in Georgia, Syria and Ukraine and that it could carry 87 crew members and weapons. The agency claimed that “search and rescue operations by the occupiers were unsuccessful” and that the vessel had previously been moored for 10 days at a special wharf where arms are loaded.

The agency said the strike was conducted by its Group 13 unit, which it also credited with using marine drones to sink Russia’s Ivanovets missile carrier on the Crimean coast earlier this month. In December, Ukraine hit the Crimean port of Feodosia and damaged another Russian large landing ship, the Novocherkassk, with cruise missiles that were probably of a type supplied to Kyiv by Britain and France.


Moscow did not officially comment on Wednesday’s attack, but several Russian military bloggers with close ties to their country’s armed forces said the Tsezar Kunikov had been sunk by Ukrainian marine drones.

Kyiv has used the relatively cheap weapons, in combination with western-made cruise missiles, to inflict heavy damage on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and its headquarters in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. In response, Moscow has moved much of the fleet further east, which has allowed Ukraine to increase shipments of grain and other goods to world markets.

However, Russian ground and air forces continue to put intense pressure on Kyiv’s troops in eastern Ukraine, where they are trying to seize the devastated industrial town of Avdiivka in Donetsk region and bombed the nearby village of Selydove on Wednesday, killing at least three people and injuring 12 others.

Ukraine’s new top general Oleksandr Syrskyi said his troops faced an “extremely difficult and tense” situation after he visited the front-line areas of Avdiivka and Kupiansk with defence minister Rustem Umerov.

“The Russian occupiers continue to increase their efforts and have a numerical advantage. They do not care about losses... and actively use aviation, do damage with guided aerial bombs and employ heavy mortar and artillery fire against our positions,” he said.

Ukrainian units are now being heavily outgunned as they ration artillery shells amid a freeze on military aid from the US, where Republicans loyal to former president Donald Trump are blocking a White House request for $60 billion (€56 billion) in weapons for Kyiv.

Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin signed a law on Wednesday to allow the confiscation of certain assets from people who spread “false information” about the country’s military or call for the imposition of sanctions on Russians.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe