The Ukrainian Air Force announced Tuesday, Dec. 26, that it had successfully targeted a Russian naval vessel on the occupied Crimean peninsula, suspected of transporting Iranian drones for Moscow's operations against Kyiv.
"At approximately 2:30 am (0030 GMT) on Dec. 26, our tactical aviation launched a cruise missile attack on the Novocherkassk large landing ship of the Russian Federation's Black Sea Fleet in the vicinity of Feodosia."
Later, the Ukrainian defence ministry wrote on X that the "Novocherkassk landing ship was destroyed in Feodosia tonight".
russian Novocherkassk landing ship was destroyed in Feodosia tonight.— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) December 26, 2023
Ukrainian pilots did an excellent job.
Crimea is Ukraine. There is no place for the occupier's fleet here. pic.twitter.com/rXphvmMBFM
It published an unattributed photo showing flames and smoke in a port at night.
"Ukraine's aviation did an excellent job. Crimea is Ukraine. There is no place for the occupier's fleet here," the ministry wrote.
In his post on social media, Zelensky wrote: "The occupiers will not have a single peaceful place in Ukraine".
Feodosia, where the attack took place, is host to a significant Russian naval base within the occupied Crimean territory.
Videos posted on social media showed a fire on the horizon in a port area, followed by a loud explosion and a much larger burst of flames and smoke.
Ukraine's armed forces said that "on board of the ship were Shahed drones that Russia uses for attacks on Ukrainian cities".
This latest destruction of Putin's navy demonstrates that those who believe there's a stalemate in the Ukraine war are wrong!— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) December 26, 2023
They haven't noticed that over the past 4 months 20% of Russia's Black Sea Fleet has been destroyed.
Russia's dominance in the Black Sea is now… https://t.co/F6zRmA9Kwx
Sergey Aksyonov, the Kremlin-backed leader of Crimea, confirmed the attack, stating, "An enemy attack was carried out in the area of Feodosia."
He further reported that the port area was secured, the detonation had ceased, and the fire had been contained. Evacuation measures were underway for residents of several affected houses.
In a following post, he mentioned that the attack killed one person and injured two others.
"Sadly, one person was killed and two others were wounded in an enemy attack on Feodosia," Aksyonov said on Telegram.
The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed that the ship Novocherkassk was damaged "during the repulse of the AFU strike."
According to the message, the Armed Forces of Ukraine struck the ship with aircraft-guided missiles. During the defence, as mentioned by DefMin, Russian forces managed to destroy two Ukrainian Su-24 planes that launched the missiles.
The AFU Air Force has refuted such information.
"I certainly don't confirm that. They claim they destroy five of our planes in their reports every day. So, there's no room for belief here," Yury Ignat, the spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, said, speaking to RFE/RL.
He further mentioned that the Su-24M aircraft belonged to the tactical aviation brigade and was stationed in Starokonstantyniv.
"It's evident that aviation isn't idle; it's currently carrying out operational missions at airfields. Russia will undoubtedly attempt to present the population with claims about our aircraft being destroyed. They consistently report destroying a group of planes," Ignat said.
Our entire combat air force undergoes rotations monthly despite them claiming to have already begun destroying the F-16. Therefore, it's not advisable to trust Russian statements regarding any alleged destruction of our aircraft," he added.
Ukraine has a history of conducting operations in Crimea, with a particular focus on targeting Russian military assets.
In March 2022, the Armed Forces of Ukraine launched an airstrike on the occupied port of Berdyansk.
During that operation, they claimed to have destroyed a large Russian Black Sea Fleet ship called Saratov and also caused damage to two other landing ships, Caesar Kunikov and Novocherkassk.
On April 13, 2022, the Naval Forces of Ukraine destroyed the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation - the missile cruiser "Moskva", leading to its sinking the following day.
Although the exact number of individuals on board at the time of the attack remains undisclosed by Russia, up to 500 people could have been present there.
Kremlin has acknowledged only 17 fatalities, attributing it to a combination of “ammunition detonation, fire, and subsequent flooding during adverse weather conditions.”
It was both a great military loss for the Russians and a blow to their confidence. After the sinking of the Moskva, the Russian fleet moved far from Ukrainian shores.
Notably, this incident stands as Russia’s most expensive single military loss in the ongoing war with Ukraine, with the estimated value of the ship at the time of its destruction reaching approximately $750 million, as reported by Forbes.
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