The Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR) of the Ministry of Defense reported via Telegram the destruction of a Russian Project 498 Saturn class tugboat critical to the transport of heavy military equipment and supplies from mainland Russia to the occupied Crimea peninsula.

“Saturn will no longer sail - the special forces of the HUR destroyed the Russian tugboat,” read the caption accompanying the released video.

Project 498 Saturn (or Proteus) class vessels are port tugboats designed for the input, output, rearrangement, and mooring of large-tonnage sea vessels of all types in harbors, including in ice conditions. These ships are also equipped with firefighting systems.

According to the report, the HUR’s 9th Special Unit successfully struck a tugboat on Thursday, June 6, near the shores of occupied Crimea.

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“As a result of the operation in the water area of Lake Panske, another ship of the Russian invaders was destroyed,” the message said.

Devastating fire damage was inflicted after successfully breaching the line of defense barriers of the Russians in the Black Sea, according to the report.

The released footage showcased the operation of surface drones without specifying the type used.

In a conversation with Kyiv Post, a Ukrainian servicemember said that the footage captured a coordinated operation of kamikaze surface drones moving towards a concentration of Russian vessels near the temporarily occupied Crimea. The three surface drones first punched a hole in a floating barrier that looked like empty fuel drums.

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After the detonation of the first kamikaze upon hitting the barrier, the operator of the next drone could be seen pausing at the site of the explosion and searching for an opening in the barrier. After passing the barrier, the Ukrainian kamikaze approached the pier, methodically searched for the target, and then struck.

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Following the detonation of the second kamikaze in the bay, the third drone captured the aftermath of the previous explosion. After the second hit, the tugboat was hit again and destroyed.

Andriy Yusov, a representative of the HUR, commented on this operation during a telethon broadcast, saying: “[It was] a naval strike, everything is accurate. This is another ‘sea property’ at the bottom of the Ukrainian Black Sea, on the Crimean coast.”

Previously, Ukrainian forces used a combination of water-borne kamikaze drones, US-made ATACMS missiles, and aerial drones to strike Russian military port facilities in the seaside town of Chornomorsk overnight on May 29-30, less than ten kilometers west of the port in the Caucasus.

According to most reports, the attack destroyed at least two armed naval patrol vessels and one civilian ferry. Five other vessels, including cutters, tugboats, and a second ferry, were also damaged.

Following the strike, Russian officials claimed that the Ukrainian weapons caused minimal damage to civilian watercraft and none to Russian military vessels. Russia’s Defense Minister Andrei Belousov doubled down on that narrative, claiming all the ATACMS were shot down.

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Ground-level images and subsequent satellite photographs, published before Belousov's statement, appeared to confirm that the damage was indeed serious and that multiple vessels had been destroyed by hits from ATACMS missiles.

Tsaplienko, citing an unnamed Ukrainian senior officer, said that because of those strikes, the Kremlin can no longer move heavy military supplies from mainland Russia to the occupied Crimea peninsula, as all ferries linking the two sides of the Kerch Strait are now sunk or in need of months of repairs.

The guerrillas of the Atesh movement earlier announced a “mass extermination of rashists in Crimea.”

The Atesh partisans added that they both observed successful strikes against Russian forces and actively participated in the attacks.

As reported by The Economist, the arrival of ATACMS long-range missiles in the $61 billion US military support package, capable of hitting targets at up to 300 kilometers, has enabled Ukraine to strike crucial locations in Russian-occupied Crimea with precision.

Despite remaining restrictions on targeting other areas in Russia, Ukraine's successful campaign in Crimea showcases its potential. With strategic strikes on military infrastructure and the use of advanced drones, Ukraine is converting an occupied peninsula from a Russian asset to a liability.

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The upcoming summer season will test Crimea’s strategic value, as a decrease in tourism could indicate a shift from a prestigious project to a burden on Russian resources. If Russian tourists avoid Crimea, it will be a bad sign for President Putin and a strategic win for Ukraine.

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