A Russian tanker was hit by Ukrainian drones in the Kerch Strait a day after Kyiv said it had carried out a seaborne drone strike on a navy ship, Russian officials have said.
“The SIG tanker … received a hole in the engine room near the waterline on the starboard side, preliminarily as a result of a sea drone attack,” Russia’s Federal Agency for Marine and River Transport said early on Saturday, adding that there were no casualties.
Ukraine releases video of the strike by a Ukrainian naval drone against the Russian SIG tanker vessel carrying fuel for the Russian Army.
The Black Sea has become to small for the Russian Navy… pic.twitter.com/XYnno0t3OU
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) August 5, 2023
Two tugboats were at the scene to assist the tanker, the state-run Tass news agency said, citing the Maritime Rescue Centre. The reported attack briefly halted traffic on the Kerch Bridge, the strategic highway linking Russian-occupied Crimea to the Russian mainland.
Ukraine, which launched the highly anticipated counter-offensive in June after months of speculation, made no official statement on the incident.
The Moscow Times identified the vessel as the chemical tanker SIG, which is under US sanctions for supplying jet fuel to Russian forces in Syria supporting the president, Bashar al-Assad.
Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed official in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, said several members of the ship’s crew were injured by broken glass in the attack.
“The detonation due to the explosion on the ship was visible from the peninsula, which the local residents thought was an explosion in the vicinity of Yakovenkovo settlement not far from the Crimean Bridge,” Rogov wrote on Telegram.
Ukrainian drones damage Russian landing ship
The latest attack in the Black Sea came a day after Ukraine said it had carried out a seaborne drone strike on a Russian warship at Novorossiysk naval base in southern Russia.
A Russian landing ship was struck and disabled in the country’s Black Sea port of Novorossiysk by an unmanned Ukrainian boat, known as a sea drone, Kyiv said, as onboard camera footage appeared to confirm the success of the night attack.
— Dan Johnson (@Real_DCJ) August 4, 2023
The 112-metre Olenegorsky Gornyak from Russia’s Northern Fleet, which has been used to transport troops and military hardware into occupied Ukrainian ports, was said to have been sufficiently damaged to have been put out of combat action.
Images of a Russian warship tilting to its side emerged shortly after the strike and footage was published by the Unian news agency from the head of the marine drone appearing to show it moving stealthily across the Black Sea towards the ship and hitting it at its centre.
Russia said on Friday it had repelled an attempted attack on the base by the Ukrainian armed forces “with the use of two unmanned sea boats”.
The number of attacks in the Black Sea by both sides has increased since Moscow exited a deal last month that had allowed Ukrainian grain exports via the shipping hub during the conflict between the two countries.
The bridge, completed by Russia in 2018, four years after Moscow annexed the peninsula from Ukraine, has been subjected to two major attacks in the 17-month-old Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the most recent one occurring last month.