Since the Kremlin launch its full-blown attack two years ago, Ukraine has destroyed or damaged 28 ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF). The list of destroyed targets includes ships of various classes, from small tugboats and corvettes to the Fleet’s flagship, the cruiser Moskva.

Although Ukraine has no powerful navy, it is fighting an extremely successful “sea war” against Russia. To counter Russian warships, Ukraine uses MAGURA V5 kamikaze sea drones of its own development.

The MAGURA V5 multi-purpose marine drone was created for surveillance, reconnaissance, patrolling, search and rescue operations, protection of facilities, but above all, for striking critical naval targets of the enemy. The universal drone was specially developed for the Defense Ministry’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR), so all MAGURA V5 operations are carried out by Ukrainian intelligence officers.

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The MAGURA V5 is not the first Ukrainian maritime kamikaze drone. Its predecessor is the Sea Baby marine drone, designed specifically for the operations of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). Sea Baby drones also successfully attacked the ships of the Black Sea Fleet. On July 17, 2023, they struck the Crimean Bridge, damaging the support and the span.

Large Russian landing ships

The Caesar Kunikov was a Russian large landing ship classified as Project 775 or Ropuch class. Ukraine has already damaged or destroyed a total of four such ships.

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The Olenegorskiy Gornyak was seriously damaged by sea drones in early August 2023. After being hit, the ship rolled to the left and almost sank. A flat calm sea allowed Russian tugboats to rescue the damaged ship. Currently, the vessel is being repaired in the Novorossiysk dry dock.

However, the story of the amphibious assault ship Minsk demonstrates that being in dry dock does not guarantee safety. On the night of Sept. 13, 2023, Ukrainian forces attacked the shipyard near Sevastopol with Storm Shadow missiles. The Minsk was seriously damaged by a missile that hit the port side. The fire that broke out on the ship lasted more than six hours. The probability is that prolonged exposure to high temperature adversely affected the metal, which may have led to its deformation.

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Although the ship is still being repaired, its recovery is highly doubtful, because the damage was very serious.

On March 24, 2022, the landing ship Novocherkassk was damaged by a Tochka-U missile strike in Berdyansk. Later, on Dec. 26, 2022, it was destroyed by a Storm Shadow missile in Feodosia.

Another amphibious assault ship destroyed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces was the Saratov of Project 1771. It was liquidated in Berdyansk in March 2022, exactly one month after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Then a Ukrainian missile (there were reports about Tochka-U) hit the Saratov loaded with ammunition, which burst into flames and went to the bottom near the quay wall.

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Screenshot from the video. Attack on the ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the port of Berdyansk. The Saratov landing ship is on fire.

The rest of the Russian ships that were nearby escaped by fleeing into the open sea. Among them was the Caesar Kunikov, which was not critically damaged, while its captain, Alexander Chirva, died from injuries a few days after the attack on the Russian ships in Berdyansk. In memory of the third rank captain Chirva, the Russians hung a memorial plaque on the wall of one of the Sevastopol gymnasiums, which confirms the death of the then commander of the Caesar Kunikov in April 2022.

Photo from Russian publications. The memorial plaque dedicated to the captain of the Caesar Kunikov on the wall of one of the Sevastopol gymnasiums.

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The Caesar Kunikov was the fifth landing ship hit by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It is considered a relatively modern vessel of the Black Sea Fleet, as it was launched in 1986. The estimated cost of this ship from Project 775 is $110 million. The ship and its crew participated in Russia’s multiple combat operations at sea. The Caesar Kunikov was part of the Russian squadron that attacked Georgia in 2008. The ship delivered ammunition to the theater of war during the Syrian campaign.

Russian amphibious assault ships of Project 775, such as the Caesar Kunikov, played an important role in the war against Ukraine. Their mission was to transport troops, weapons, ammunition and equipment to the places of hostilities.

These ships have a significant carrying capacity of up to 480 tons, which allows them to transport up to 10 tanks, 340 paratroopers and other military cargo.

The destruction of the Caesar Kunikov on Feb. 14, 2024 was a significant loss for Russia. It is possible that there was an important military cargo on board.

Due to the disabling and destruction of large amphibious assault ships, the logistical capabilities of the Russian army are significantly reduced. As of Feb. 24, 2022, there were seven landing ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and five ships of the Baltic Fleet in the Black Sea. If the Crimean Bridge were destroyed, large landing ships would have a decisive role in supplies for Russian troops at the front, while there are fewer and fewer such ships.

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The night of Sept. 13, 2023 was fatal not only for the Minsk. During the attack on the Sevastopol Shipyard, the diesel-electric submarine Rostov-on-Don was heavily damaged.

As such, one of the four submarines of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, carrying Kalibr cruise missiles, which played an important role in the shelling of Ukraine, was removed from the waters of the Black Sea. This submarine will probably never repaired. Even if such a technical possibility existed, the restoration would be unprofitable.

The destruction of the Black Sea Fleet ships has been going on since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The corvette Velikiy Ustyug was probably disabled on March 7, 2022.

The patrol boat Oleg Shipitsyn was hit by an anti-tank missile system in the waters of the Sea of Azov.

The frigate Admiral Essen was damaged by a Neptune missile off the coast of Odesa.

The patrol corvette Yunarmeyets Baltiki was hit by ammunition from a Bayraktar drone near Snake (Zmiiynyi) Island.

The landing boats D-310, D-144, the patrol boats P-275, P-276, P-281 and Raptor were also hit by ammunition from Bayraktar drones in the area of Snake Island.

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The multirole logistics support vessel Vsevolod Bobrov was hit by a Neptune missile and caught fire. According to the media, the ship was carrying troops and weapons, including anti-aircraft missile systems, to Snake Island. The damaged vessel was towed to Sevastopol.

The rescue tugboat Vasily Bekh was hit in the waters of the Black Sea. Some 70 percent of the crew died, while the fate of the rest is unknown.

Ukrainian UAVs and sea kamikaze drones attacked the patrol frigate Admiral Makarov and the minesweeper Ivan Golubets in Sevastopol Bay.

The medium reconnaissance ship Ivan Khurs was attacked and damaged by drones in the Black Sea.

A Ukrainian naval drone Sea Baby hit the small hovercraft missile corvette Samum.

The patrol corvettes Sergey Kotov and Pavel Derzhavin were attacked by marine drones.

The rescue tugboat Professor Nikolay Muru was attacked by a sea drone armed with experimental weapons.

The small missile corvette Askold was damaged in a Ukrainian missile strike on the Zaliv Shipyard in Kerch.

In addition to warships, Ukraine damaged the Russian oil and chemical tanker SIG, which happened far from the Ukrainian coast, near Novorossiysk Bay. With this, Ukraine demonstrated its ability to operate at long distances to endanger the export of Russian oil by tankers. The explosion tore a hole in the ship’s hull and the engine room were flooded, which disabled the engines.

April 13, 2022 became a significant day for Ukraine when the Ukrainian military delivered a devastating blow to the BSF flagship, the missile cruiser Moskva. Hit by two Neptune missiles, the ship caught fire and sank.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine have destroyed or disabled a total of 28 Russian vessels. This is almost a third of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Constant attacks forced the Russian command to transfer the ships away from the shores of Ukraine.

With successful strikes on warships and support ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Ukraine has not only reduced the risk of Russian amphibious operations on its coast and decreased the number of Russian missile carriers, but also secured marine “corridors” to enable Ukrainian grain exports.

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