At least two Ukrainian remote-controlled unmanned surface vehicles (RUSV), as the drones are officially called, were detonated during an attack on the Crimea home port of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF) on Monday April 24. The early morning attack may have resulted in damage to a Russian warship moored in the harbor.
Security video posted on Russian civilian internet sites, which was timed at 03:30, showed bright orange flashes followed by the sound of explosions in the vicinity of a pier, normally used by BSF patrol vessels, at the Crimean military port of Sevastopol.
Russian officials claimed that no absolutely no damage occurred. This assertion was contradicted by an independent Russian news platform, a senior Ukrainian official along with videos placed on social media.
Since Russia’s Feb. 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) have on occasions used surface-to-surface missiles, kamikaze airborne drones and RUSV loaded with explosives to attack Russian naval facilities in Crimea.
Civilian video, geolocated to Sevastopol and placed on the internet following the blasts, showed the sound of intense automatic weapons fire and hundreds of tracer rounds firing skyward from multiple sites around the city of Sevastopol.
An official statement from the Russian state news agency TASS, quoted Sevastopol “mayor” Mikhail Razvozhaev as saying: “Today starting at 3:30 a.m. there was an attempted attack on Sevastopol ... one surface drone was destroyed by fleet defenses and a second blew up on its own. All of this took place outside the harbor and there was no damage.” State media later showed a military helicopter flying over the city and a patrol boat on the approach to the harbor.
In a later statement, on his personal Telegram channel, Razvozhaev said: “All services of the city are on alert. We are all calm.”
The Russian independent news platform, Astra, contradicted Razvozhaev’s claims, reporting that one drone had reached its target, detonating next to a BSF warship tied up at a floating drydock in the Streletska Bay part of Sevastopol’s port.
Video, taken and posted by civilians in the area, showed smoke in the vicinity of the military dry dock and, what appeared to be, a Russian warship silhouetted by the powerful explosion. Still images, also linked to Sevastapol civilian residents, showed windows blown out at upmarket single-family residences and an apartment building.
Andriy Yermak, Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, confirmed the attack was successful without giving details, the UNIAN news agency reported.
The last time Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) operators launched RUSV loaded with explosives at Russian naval targets was on Mar. 22, when BSF authorities claimed that three surface craft were destroyed.
The most spectacular kamikaze boat drone attack took place on Oct. 29, when six RSUV penetrated deep into Sevastopol Bay. Four Russian warships were damaged in the attack and one, the missile-carrying frigate Admiral Makarov, appeared to suffer serious fire and structural damage to its hull, after which the ship was moved to mainland Russia.
According to official Ukrainian statements, Crimea will be the ultimate objective of Ukraine’s upcoming Spring offensive. Russian officials have played down Ukraine’s capacity to damage BSF warships or shoreside facilities, repeatedly telling Crimean residents that fleet defenses are strong; fighting with Ukraine is distant; all residents of the Russia-occupied peninsula should remain calm.
On Apr. 20, less than 72 hours before the latest AFU RUSV raid on the BSF home port Razvozhaev, in a Telegram statement, told Sevastopol residents: “If you hear loud sounds in the center of the city, that’s the fleet conducting exercises for defending Sevastopol harbor. In the city everything is quiet.”
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