Drone attack sinks Tsezar Kunikov warship on Black Sea, Ukraine claims

Russia has not commented on the apparent sinking

Ukrainian says it destroyed Russian warship the Tsezar Kunikov in the Black Sea. AP
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Ukrainian naval drones have destroyed a Russian warship in the Black Sea off Crimea, Ukrainian military sources have announced.

The port side of the amphibious ship Tsezar Kunikov was breached in the attack by six drones, Ukraine’s military spy agency said on Wednesday.

There has been no immediate comment from Russia on the fate of the Kunikov, which Ukraine said sank near Alupka, a city on the southern edge of the Crimean Peninsula.

“The Ukrainian Armed Forces, together with the Defence Ministry's intelligence unit, destroyed the Tsezar Kunikov large landing ship. It was in Ukraine's territorial waters near Alupka at the time of the hit,” the military said.

The Kunikov can carry a crew of 87.

Ukraine’s Military Intelligence, known by its Ukrainian acronym GUR, said its special operations unit “Group 13” sank the Kunikov using Magura V5 sea drones. Explosions damaged the vessel on its left side, it said.

GUR also released a heavily edited video of the apparent attack.

Ambrey, a private intelligence firm, said the video showed that at least three drones conducted the attack and that the ship likely sank after listing heavily on its port side.

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The Kunikov was probably part of the Russian fleet escorting merchant vessels that call at Crimean ports, Ambrey said.

It is the second time in two weeks that Ukrainian forces have said they sank a Russian vessel in the Black Sea. Last week, they published a video that they said showed naval drones assaulting the Russian missile-armed corvette Ivanovets.

The attack comes less than two weeks before the second anniversary of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Crimea had been annexed by Russia in 2014.

The Russian military did not immediately comment on the claimed sinking, saying only that it downed six Ukrainian drones over the Black Sea overnight.

Kunikov, for whom the Russian vessel was named, was a Second World War hero of the Soviet Union for his exploits and died on February 14 in 1943.

Updated: February 14, 2024, 12:52 PM