The Russian Ministry of Defense (RMoD) claims that its intelligence ship, the Vishnya-class “Priazovye”, was attacked around 300 kilometers southeast of Sevastopol, Crimea, by a swarm of up to six remote-controlled unmanned surface vehicles (RUSV – maritime drones).

 

“Today, at about 01:30 Moscow time, the armed forces of Ukraine made an unsuccessful attempt to attack the Black Sea Fleet’s ship Priazovye,” the RMoD announced on its Telegram channel.

 

According to the statement, the ship was “ensuring security along the routes of the Turkish Stream and Blue Stream gas pipelines in the southeastern part of the Black Sea.”

 

The Kremlin has released a video which claims to show the Priazovy repelling the attack. It states that “all boats were destroyed by fire from the standard weapons of the Russian ship,” adding that “there were no casualties” and “the ship received no damage.”

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The video seems to have been taken in daylight which raises questions about its authenticity.

 

The Black Sea Fleet (BSF) lists data on the Priazovye, which says it is armed with two 30mm AK-306, six-barreled close-in weapon system (CIWS) and two 9K38 Igla SAM system launchers. It further states that the ship is “designed for SIGINT and COMINT electronic intelligence via an extensive array of sensors, the data of which is transmitted to shore via satellite link antennas.”

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Moscow claimed that a US Air Force RQ-4B “Global Hawk” surveillance drone was conducting “reconnaissance in the airspace of the central part of the Black Sea,” by implication suggesting that it was being used to assist Ukrainian RUSVs in targeting the vessel.

 

This is the second such event in recent weeks, following an RUSV attack on the Russian ship “Ivan Khurs” in the Black Sea, on May 24. That vessel also allegedly suffered no damage and no casualties, though some commentators have questioned this based on Ukrainian footage that appears to show a drone impacting the Ivan Khurs.

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Ukraine has not confirmed that the attack took place or claimed responsibility, although the drones in the video resemble other drones used by Ukraine on attacks in the Black Sea and off the Crimean coast.

 

Russia and Turkey formally opened the TurkStream pipeline, which has the capacity to transport 31.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year, in January 2020. The pipeline allows Moscow to bypass Ukraine as a transit route to southern Europe through the Black Sea and Turkey. The Blue Stream pipeline delivers Russian gas to Turkey.

 

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