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Ukraine says its drones hit Russian warship in Black Sea

An inspection group of the Maritime Guard of the State Border Service of Ukraine prepare to disembark to board a cargo ship for inspection for prohibited items and substances before entering a port in the northwestern part of the Black Sea, on Dec. 18, 2023, amid the Russian invasion in Ukraine.    (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/TNS)
By Kateryna Chursina and Aliaksandr Kudrytski Bloomberg News

Ukraine’s military said it destroyed a Russian warship off the south coast of Crimea, the latest in a string of operations targeting Kremlin navy vessels in the Black Sea.

Ukrainian military intelligence said a special unit sank the Caesar Kunikov, a Russian large landing ship off Alupka in occupied Crimea, according to a video published by Ukraine’s military intelligence on the X social media platform. Naval drones were used in the attack, it said.

The Russian vessel “was upgraded to a submarine,” the Defense Ministry said in a separate X post. The landing ship was in Ukrainian waters, it said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the Ukrainian attack, referring questions to his country’s Defense Ministry, news agency RIA Novosti reported. The ministry reported downing six drones over the Black Sea overnight, without elaborating.

The pro-Moscow military blogger Rybar, which has 1.1 million subscribers on Telegram, also posted a report about the Russian warship being destroyed.

Ukraine has been intensifying attacks against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the last few months using explosive-laden naval drones, prompting Moscow to relocate part of the fleet away from the peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s military said it’s destroyed 24 Russian military vessels and a submarine since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.