Russian Black Sea flagship damaged in Crimea drone attack, video suggests | Russia

Russia’s Black Sea flagship Admiral Makarov was damaged and possibly disabled in a daring Ukrainian drone attack over the weekend on the Crimean port of Sevastopol, according to a review of video footage.

Open source researchers said the frigate was one of three Russian vessels to be hit on Saturday. A swarm of drones – some flying through the air, others gliding rapidly over water – hit the Russian Navy at 4:20 a.m. Video from one of the marine drones shows the unmanned vehicle weaving between enemy boats.

Ukrainian officials said it was unclear whether Admiral Makarov was severely crippled or had escaped with minor injuries. Unconfirmed reports indicate that her hull was breached and the radar systems were destroyed. Social media recorded loud explosions in the southern part of Sevastopol, in an area known as Riflemen’s Bay. A Russian Navy school is located nearby.

The Ministry of Defense in Moscow said Ukraine used nine aerial drones and seven sailors, several of which were intercepted, including by a Russian helicopter. He made no mention of Admiral Makarov. The ministry admitted there had been “minor damage” to a minesweeper, the Ivan Golubets.

On Sunday, Moscow said the drones had been recovered and were being analyzed. The department said they were equipped with Canadian-made navigation modules. He blamed the UK for the attack and said a Royal Navy unit orchestrated the operations from the port of Ochakiv in southern Ukraine. The British government rejected this.

Very epic footages from today's attack by drones on the Port in Sevastopol, Crimea

— Special Kherson Cat 🐈🇺🇦 (@bayraktar_1love) October 29, 2022


A Ukrainian journalist, Andriy Tsaplienko, has shared dramatic footage shot by a drone in action off the Crimean coast in which it appeared to dodge bullets hitting the water while heading towards a target vessel. He said Admiral Makarov was damaged along with at least two other ships carrying Kalibr cruise missiles, including a transport ship – either the Chamois or the Lightning. “There is a good chance that several ships will not only be damaged but sunk,” he wrote.

On Sunday Geoconfirmed, a volunteer group, said an “Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate” fell victim to the attack. After reviewing still photos, he concluded: “Only Admiral Makarov fits this class for the Black Sea Fleet.” The video ends when a drone hits the Russian boat, he added, with the unmanned vessel “probably” exploding on impact.

Aides to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy hinted the country was behind Saturday’s well-orchestrated raid. His government did not claim responsibility. This is the second time that Kyiv appears to have punched a hole in a prestigious Russian navy ship, in a carefully planned operation that caught the Kremlin off guard.

It follows the dramatic sinking in April of the battleship Moskva, a Soviet-built gun platform with a crew of 510. Many have perished. It was the first time Russia had lost a flagship since the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, with the Moskva being the largest ship sunk in conflict since 1945. The entire Russian Black Sea Fleet now appears vulnerable to ranged warfare.

Andriy Zagorodnyuk, the former Ukrainian defense minister, called Saturday’s strike an “interesting development”. “Whoever did it used a group attack. It’s not like a single rocket hits a target. It’s coordinated. Numerous air and sea drones overload the Russian defense system. If you take down one or two, the others pass,” he told the Guardian. “It’s a swarm tactic.”

Zagorodnyuk said he was struck by the fact that the drones had “a fairly strong live video connection”. They were able to register the attack, despite the fact that they were operating more than 100 miles from the Ukrainian coast. “That it can be done over this distance is remarkable,” he observed. However, Iranian suicide drones that attacked Kyiv two weeks ago were more primitive and “flew blind”, he noted.

Ukraine has shown its ability to hit long-range targets in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. It is believed to have hit the bridge connecting the peninsula with Russiathe Saky Aerodrome, and – two months ago – the naval headquarters building in Sevastopol. Zelenskiy vowed to liberate Crimea, as well as all of southern and eastern occupied Ukraine.

In the aftermath of the Sevastopol attack, the Kremlin declared it was withdrawing from a UN-brokered grain deal which allows civilian ships to export grain and fertilizers from Black Sea ports. Zelenskiy, however, said Moscow was looking for a pretext to end the initiative. It had ‘deliberately escalated’ the food crisis since September, he said in a video address.

Russia’s actions have effectively blocked the passage of ships, he added, with 176 ships stranded in the agreed grain corridor, with some waiting “more than three weeks”. They were unable to deliver their cargo to countries like Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Bangladesh and Vietnam, he said.

Zelenskiy stressed: “A strong international response is needed now. Both at the UN level and at other levels. In particular, at the level of the G20. Ukraine has been and can continue to be one of the guarantors of world food security. Russian terror and blackmail must lose. Humanity must win.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Moscow took the decision to “resume its hunger games a long time ago and is now trying to justify it”. He tweeted: “By suspending its participation in the grain agreement under the false pretext of explosions 220 km from the grain corridor, Russia is blocking 2 million tons of grain – enough to feed more than 7 million people.”

UN Secretary General António Guterres said he was “deeply concerned” about the end of the deal. He delayed his trip to Algiers for the Arab League summit for a day to focus on the issue, a UN spokesman said on Sunday. António Guterres was engaged in “intense contacts” to recover the agreement and spoke with the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell.

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