KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian navy drones sank two small Russian landing boats in Crimea, the Ukrainian military intelligence agency said on Friday, as forces braced for more Russian attacks in the east, especially in the devastated town of Avdiivka.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the report of the attack on Vozka Bay in western Crimea, which a Ukrainian military analyst said was a major blow and a major loss for Russia.
There was no immediate comment from Russia, which seized and annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and whose Black Sea fleet is based in the Crimean city of Sevastopol.
A preliminary report by Ukrainian military intelligence said that the two small Russian amphibious ships were bombed during the night.
An update on Friday evening said the attack was carried out by Navy drones. One landing craft was identified as an Akula-class ship, and the other was a Serna-class ship.
“Intelligence results conducted on November 10, 2023 near Vozka Bay in the temporarily occupied Crimean Peninsula show that after an attack by naval drones, two small Russian landing ships were destroyed,” the report stated.
“As a result of the attack, both ships sank to the bottom, Akula immediately, and Serna after attempts to save her.”
The Ukrainian military said the ships were manned and loaded with armored vehicles.
“Such boats represent a very big loss…” Andrei Ryzhenko, a military analyst and reserve officer, told Radio NV.
“They allowed for the transfer of tactical landing force and equipment relatively inconspicuously.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the attacks on naval targets weakened Moscow’s military power in the region. Ukraine says some Russian ships have left Sevastopol.
AVDIIVKA is under constant attack
In eastern Ukraine, officials in Avdiivka, which has been under Russian fire since mid-October, expected a new attempt to advance on the city once the ground dried out after several days of heavy rain.
“Things are as hot as ever. The enemy is firing around the clock inside the city and around our positions,” Vitaly Barabash, head of Avdiivka’s military administration, told public radio Sospilen.
Barabash said that more than 1,500 remaining residents in the city, which had a population of 32,000, were preparing to evacuate. He added that Russian forces have begun using drones to monitor smoke rising from temporary stoves and shoot it as the weather cools.
Military analyst Serhiy Zgorets, writing on the website of the Espresso TV channel, said Russian forces sought to exploit Ukraine’s focus on Avdiivka by trying to regain areas lost near Bakhmut to the northeast. Russian forces took control of Bakhmut in May, but Ukrainian forces have since recaptured nearby villages.
Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Ukraine began a counteroffensive in the south and east in early June, but faced strong resistance.
The Russian Defense Minister said early Saturday that his anti-aircraft units shot down Ukrainian drones over the Moscow region and near Smolensk near the border with Belarus.
The unofficial Russian Baza Telegraph channel reported that a drone was shot down near a machinery factory in Kolomna, 100 km southeast of Moscow, and published a photo of what it said was a fire at an explosives factory in Kotovsk to the southeast.
Reuters was unable to confirm whether the incidents reported by Baza were related to those from the Ministry of Defense and was unable to independently verify any of the reports.
Report by Pavel Polityuk. Edited by Ron Popeski and Grant McCall
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