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Russian patrol boat sunk by Ukrainian sea drones off Crimea

Ukrainian sea drones sank a Russian Black Sea Fleet patrol ship off occupied Crimea, Kyiv claimed on Tuesday.

Ukraine’s navy said explosive-packed drones had hit the ship near the Kerch Strait off the Crimean peninsula, causing “damage to the stern, starboard and port sides”.

“As for the crew, the details are being clarified. There are dead and wounded. But it is likely that some of the crew managed to evacuate,” military intelligence spokesman Andriy Yusov told local media.

Ukrainian forces claim to have destroyed more than two dozen Russian ships since Moscow invaded in February 2022, including several in recent weeks.

Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence unit released a video on Tuesday showing what it said was the overnight attack. The footage showed a naval drone approaching the side of the Sergei Kotov, a 308-foot patrol boat, before a large explosion can be seen sending fire, smoke and debris into the sky above the vessel.

Train and highway traffic was temporarily stopped on the bridge linking the Crimean peninsula to the Russian mainland following the attack, according to the Telegram channel of a Russia-installed official in Crimea.

Andriy Yermak, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, said on Telegram on Tuesday that “The Russian Black Sea Fleet is a symbol of occupation. It cannot be in the Ukrainian Crimea,” in an apparent reference to the attack.

It came as Ukraine’s air force said on Tuesday it had downed 18 of 22 Iranian-designed attack drones launched by Russia over the Black Sea port city of Odesa.

The Russian defence ministry did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Last month, Ukraine claimed it twice sank Russian warships using drones – the Russian missile-armed corvette Ivanovets and the Caesar Kunikov landing ship. Russian officials did not confirm those claims.

Kyiv officials say 20 per cent of Russian missile attacks on Ukraine are launched from the Black Sea. Hitting Russian ships there is embarrassing for Moscow.

Last year, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva guided-missile cruiser, sank after it was heavily damaged in a missile attack.