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Frontline report: Ukrainian drone blitz shatters Russian Black Sea fleet

In a daring move, Ukrainian drones launched a significant attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet, targeting Novorossiysk instead of Sevastopol. The attack inflicted severe damage, sinking a Russian assault landing ship and disrupting fuel supplies. Simultaneously, Ukraine conducted a massive aerial drone strike on Crimea, drawing attention away from the main strike. The Kerch Bridge was also targeted by Ukrainian drones, with explosions reported.
maritime drone attack
A Ukrainian maritime kamikaze drone on the way to a Russian warship. Credit: SBU via Ukrayinska Pravda.

Ukrainians launched a drone attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet. This time, instead of choosing Sevostopol, Ukrainians unexpectedly decided to target the Russian harbor in Novorossiysk.

At first, Russian sources reported that Ukrainians tried to blow up Russian oil terminals and that all drones were shot down. Unfortunately for Russians, the footage of the attack got published very quickly this time, and it turned out that Ukrainians successfully attacked a Russian assault landing ship’s board.

Ukrainian marine drone operators also shortly released the footage from the drone itself. The drone made a hole in the side of the ship, one room was completely flooded, and the ship lost the ability to move independently. The ship was close to sinking when the tugs arrived, and the ship got pulled to the shore barely on time.

Russian analysts expressed their disdain for the situation. They analyzed the footage and concluded that not only didn’t Russians equip the ship with additional machine guns necessary to intercept such attacks, but the crew also did not notice the drone on time, despite receiving multiple warnings that Ukrainian drones were heading in their direction. Russian analysts concluded that the crew was relaxed and thought that they were too far from the main action, which was exactly what Ukrainians counted on, and successfully took out one more ship.

Simultaneously, Ukrainians conducted a massive aerial drone strike on Crimea. Ukrainians reportedly launched 20 drones of various types. The first three groups of drones targeted the western shore of Crimea. Even though they were heading toward military objects, the goal of these drones was not necessarily to destroy them but rather to draw attention away from the main strike. That is why the last group of drones managed to pass through a vast area and reach Feodosia.

Russian sources reported that all drones were shot down but noted that at least one drone still fell on the territory of an oil refinery. Some Russian analysts noted that the extensive oil depots in Feodosia were exactly what Ukrainians targeted, so it seems like some of the drones were not intercepted and reached their destination. Nonetheless, there is still no footage of fire, so even though the drones hit the territory of the refinery, it is not guaranteed that they inflicted damage, which happens sometimes.

Interestingly, the time of launch of marine and aerial drones was virtually the same. That is another reason why Russians did not prepare for the strike in Novorossiysk – they thought that the target of the marine drones would be Crimea. And they were right partially because the marine drones split into two groups, and one group headed in the direction of the Kerch Bridge.

Russian sources reported that Ukrainians attacked the bridge with at least 3 drones. Local residents reported hearing explosions, which is confirmed by the footage. It was claimed that the drones did not reach the bridge itself, even though the footage shows that the lights on the bridge are not on anymore. Instead, Russian sources claimed that one of the drones hit a Russian oil tanker that was delivering fuel to the Zaporizhzhia region.

Interestingly, this was the only ship that Russian warships tried to protect and accompany all the way to Crimea. The crew of the tanker reported that there were no leaks of oil or threat of sinking – the Ukrainians just took out the motor, which means that Russian supplies of fuel on the front will not get replenished.

Overall, Ukrainians conducted a combined drone strike in the Black Sea, took out one Russian warship, one oil tanker, and possibly damaged an oil depot in Feodosia and, most importantly, the Kerch bridge.

In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.

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