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Ukraine bombs a Russian warship landing ship in Crimea


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MOSCOW — Ukraine hit a large Russian warship landing ship in Crimea with cruise missiles in an overnight attack that killed at least one person and could hamper any Russian attempt to seize more Ukrainian territory along the Black Sea coast.

The Interfax news agency quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying that Ukraine used air-launched missiles to attack the port of Feodosia in Crimea, and that the large landing ship Novocherkassk was damaged.

The Kremlin said that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin of the details of the attack. Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, a move condemned by Kiev and the West as an illegal takeover.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuri Ihnat said he believed it would be difficult for Novocherkassk – which can carry tanks and armored vehicles and use them to land troops on the beach – to return to service.

“We can see how powerful the explosion was, what the shape of the explosion was. After that, it is very difficult for the ship to survive, because this was not a missile, this is an ammunition detonation,” he told Radio Free Europe.

The Russian Navy's large landing ship Novocherkassk in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 12, 2021. Murat Sezer/Reuters

Ahnat said that Ukraine used cruise missiles in the attack, without specifying their type. Britain and France supplied such missiles to Kiev.

Russia has hinted that it may try to seize more Ukrainian territory along the Black Sea coast. Putin said earlier this month that Odessa, the headquarters of the Ukrainian Navy, is a “Russian city.”

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Footage published by Russian media on the Telegram application, allegedly from the port, showed strong explosions and fires.

Unverified social media videos purporting to depict the strike showed a massive explosion and swelling flames lighting up the night sky. An unverified daytime photo, which Ukrainian bloggers claimed showed the remains of the ship, showed a charred, elongated mass of wreckage emerging from the water next to the pier.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-appointed governor of Crimea, said on Telegram that one person had been killed. The Russian Information Agency said that four people were injured.

Although the Ukrainian counteroffensive achieved few gains on the battlefield, and the Russian military regained the initiative in several places, Ukraine was able to launch a series of attacks on Crimea, the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, inflicting severe damage.

Previous attacks have targeted ships in dry docks, warships anchored in the main port of Sevastopol, airports, the main building of the Black Sea Fleet and the bridge linking southern Russia with Crimea.

Throughout the war, Russia used its fleet to block Ukraine's access to the Black Sea, a major export route for agricultural and steel exports that made up a large portion of the country's economy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky quipped on Telegram that his air force added to Russia's submarine fleet by damaging a landing craft.

“There will not be a single peaceful place for the occupiers in Ukraine,” Zelensky wrote.

The Ukrainian Air Force said its pilots attacked Feodosia around 2:30 a.m. (7:30 p.m. EDT Monday), destroying Novocherkassk.

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“And the fleet in Russia is getting smaller and smaller! Thanks to the pilots of the Air Force and all those involved in this decorative work! Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, Mykola Oleshchuk, said on Telegram:

Sergei Markov, a former Kremlin advisor, said on the Telegram app that it was clear that Russia would not publish detailed information about the attack in wartime, but he said that Russia needed to do more to protect its assets in Crimea.

“It is clear that the air defense systems in Crimea must be strengthened. It (Ukraine) clearly needs to be deprived of the opportunity to strike Russia,” Markov said.

Feodosia, with a population of about 69 thousand people, is located on the southern coast of the Crimean Peninsula.

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