Ukraine’s security services have claimed their second sea-borne drone success in two days, after a Russian oil tanker was damaged in an overnight attack near the Crimea Bridge.
The tanker SIG suffered a hole at the waterline in the area of the engine room “presumably as a result of an attack by a marine drone,” the Russian Federal Agency for Sea and Inland Water Transport said on Telegram.
The presumption was later confirmed by a video filmed from the drone at is approached the ship and a statement from the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) vowing that until Russian forces “leave the territorial waters of Ukraine and our land,” the attacks will continue.
Last night a Ukrainian seaborne drone struck the SIG, a Russian government tanker, in the Kerch Strait.— Jimmy Rushton (@JimmySecUK) August 5, 2023
This particular vessel is subject to U.S. sanctions for delivering fuel to Russian forces in Syria. pic.twitter.com/jCwUJUxQTI
Vasyl Malyuk said in a post on Telegram: “Any ‘cotton’ [a Ukrainian slang term for ‘explosions’] that happens with the ships of the Russian Federation or the Crimean bridge is an absolutely logical and effective step in relation to the enemy.
“Moreover, such special operations are conducted in the territorial waters of Ukraine and are completely legal.
“So, if the Russians want the ‘cotton’ to stop, they have only one option – to leave the territorial waters of Ukraine and our land. And the sooner they do it, the better it will be for them because we will one hundred percent defeat the enemy in this war.”
Later on Saturday, Ukraine declared that six Russian Black Sea ports – Anapa, Novorossiysk, Gelendzhik, Tuapse, Sochi, and Taman – were in a "war risk area."
The damaged ship is an oil and chemical tanker currently under US sanctions for supplying jet fuel to Russian forces in Syria supporting President Bashar al-Assad.
The Ostorozhno, Novosti, Telegram channel published what it claimed was a voice recording of the stricken ship’s crew after the attack.
“We ourselves cannot move without a tugboat,” a man says. “We need to be tugged to a shipyard or something.
“The ship is in ballast. All cargo tanks are empty. The ship is afloat. The water rose to the waterline until it stopped.”
Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed official in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, had earlier said several members of the ship's crew were injured by broken glass.
“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.
Traffic on the bridge across the Kerch Strait linking the Moscow-annexed Crimean peninsula to Russia was halted for around three hours and resumed early Saturday, according to the highways information center's Telegram channel.
The attack comes just a day after a Ukrainian sea-borne drone struck the Russian assault ship ‘Olenegorsky Gornyak’ in Novorossiysk Bay on the Crimean peninsula.
In its latest intelligence briefing on Saturday the UK defence ministry said the Olenegorsky Gornyak "almost certainly suffered serious damage."
Images suggest "several watertight compartments were breached, or that the crew's damage control efforts were ineffectual," it added.
It "represents the largest Russian vessel seriously damaged or destroyed since the sinking of the cruiser Moskva on 13 April 2022."
The number of attacks in the sea has increased from both sides since Moscow exited a deal last month that had allowed Ukrainian grain exports via the shipping hub during the conflict between the two countries.
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