Ukrainian drones hit key Russian port, damage naval ship: Kyiv official

Moscow says it repels the attack on the port of Novorossiysk, which has a naval base, shipbuilding yards and an oil terminal.

Olenegorsky Gornyak, a Russian Navy landing ship, gets tugged to shore, after being damaged in a Ukrainian attack, off Novorossiysk, Russia
The Olenegorsky Gornyak, a Russian naval landing ship, is guided to land by tugboats after a Ukrainian attack on the Russian port of Novorossiysk on August 4, 2023 [Screengrab/handout video obtained by Reuters]

Ukrainian sea drones have attacked a key Russian port on the Black Sea, damaging a naval ship, according to a Ukrainian official, speaking about the latest in a series of strikes inside Russia after Kyiv promised to bring the fight home to the Kremlin.

Moscow said it repelled Friday’s attack on Novorossiysk, which marked the first time a commercial Russian port has been targeted in the 18-month war.

Olenegorsky Gornyak, a landing ship, suffered a serious breach in the attack, carried out by Ukraine’s navy and security service, according to a security service official.

As a result, the ship is unable to carry out its combat missions, said the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to give the information to the media.

Ukrainian news agencies carried footage from social media channels that they suggested showed the Olenegorsky Gornyak listing to one side.

Attack on Russian ship
A sea drone films the Olenegorsky Gornyak ship near the port of Novorossiysk [Screengrab/handout video obtained by Reuters]

The ship is designed to transport troops and heavy equipment and was sent for repairs in 2014, according to Russian media reports. It is normally based with Russia’s Northern Fleet in the Arctic.

Russia, however, said it fended off the attack on Novorossiysk, saying ships patrolling the perimeter of the naval base, including the Olenegorsky Gornyak, destroyed two sea drones.

The Caspian Pipeline Consortium, which operates an oil terminal in the port, said maritime traffic was halted for a few hours but its facilities were not damaged. The regional governor said there were no casualties.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the attack during a conference call with reporters.

Footage published on Russian social media channels appeared to show a ship firing into the sea and a burning object exploding.

Ukrainian social media channels also posted nighttime video shot from what they indicated was a sea drone, floating near a ship.

Friday’s attack is the latest in a string of assaults by Ukraine inside Russian territory. This week, drones hit a building in Moscow, and in May, two drones struck the Kremlin but caused little damage.

The port assault was carried out as the Black Sea has become an increasingly important battleground since Russia’s withdrawal from a deal that had allowed Ukrainian grain shipments across the sea.

Since scrapping the deal, Russia has hammered Ukraine’s ports, compounding a blow to food supplies worldwide.

On Wednesday, Russian drones caused significant damage and a large fire at facilities in the Odesa region that are key to Ukrainian grain exports.

A day earlier, the Russian military said Kyiv’s forces tried to attack two patrol vessels in the sea, southwest of the Russian-controlled city of Sevastopol on the annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Shortly after Russia invaded, Ukraine said it sunk the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva. Ukraine said it hit the Moskva, a guided-missile cruiser, with missiles in a devastating symbolic blow to Russia.

The Russian defence ministry said the heavily damaged Moskva sank in a storm under tow after being gutted by fire. It previously said a fire set off some of its weapons and forced the crew to evacuate. It denied there had been an attack by Ukraine on the ship.

Minutes after confirming the attack on the Black Sea port on Friday morning, Russia’s defence ministry said it had also repelled another attack by Ukraine on Crimea.

The defence ministry said air defence systems shot down 10 drones and it had electronically jammed another three.

Videos shared on Russian social media channels reportedly from around the city of Feodosia in Crimea showed what appeared to be air defence systems working as well as loud explosions.

Source: News Agencies