Russian warship Novocherkassk damaged in Ukrainian attack on Crimea

Moscow says the landing ship was hit by Ukrainian missiles in the port of Feodosia

Russia said the landing ship Novocherkassk was damaged. Ukraine suggested it had destroyed the vessel. Reuters
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A Russian warship has been damaged in a Ukrainian attack in occupied Crimea, in the latest setback to Moscow’s forces in the Black Sea.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said the Soviet-era landing ship Novocherkassk was hit by Ukrainian missiles in the port of Feodosia.

The ministry said one person was killed and two were injured in the attack on the port which is home to part of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Footage showed explosions and fires in the harbour area.

The Ukrainian Air Force suggested it had destroyed the ship, with commander Mykola Oleshchuk claiming Russia’s fleet was “getting smaller and smaller”.

He urged Russians to leave Crimea “before it’s too late” and compared the attack to the sinking of the Russian flagship Moskva last year.

Moscow did not comment on the extent of damage to the Novocherkassk but said two Ukrainian planes were shot down by air defences.

President Vladimir Putin was briefed on "the damage to our large landing ship" in a "very detailed report" by Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu, a Kremlin spokesman said.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 after moving troops into the peninsula, in a move widely condemned as an illegal land grab from Ukraine.

Kyiv’s forces have intensified attacks on Crimea in recent months amid signs Ukraine is making progress in the Black Sea even as its counter-offensive stalls on the mainland.

The Kerch Strait bridge linking Crimea to mainland Russia was damaged in July before Ukraine attacked the Black Sea fleet’s headquarters in Sevastopol in September. The move forced the Kremlin to relocate vessels to ports such as Feodosia. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently declared that “Ukraine won in the Black Sea”.

Ukrainian military gains have been credited with reopening a sea lane along the Black Sea’s western coast, despite the collapse of a UN-brokered shipping deal when Russia pulled out in July.

Britain's Defence Secretary Grant Shapps on Tuesday hailed the setback to the Russian fleet as a sign that "those who believe there’s a stalemate in the Ukraine war are wrong".

“They haven’t noticed that over the past four months 20 per cent of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has been destroyed," Mr Shapps said. “Russia’s dominance in the Black Sea is now challenged."

Ukraine’s general staff said it had shot down 13 Shahed-type drones launched by Russia from Crimea and its territory on the eastern shore of the Sea of Azov.

The drones were fired at the Odesa and Mykolaiv regions and damaged infrastructure but did not cause casualties, Ukrainian officials said.

Updated: December 26, 2023, 1:50 PM