Day 671: Dec 26
Today, the biggest news comes from the south.
Gloruous ruzzki army: we sacrificed gazillion healthy russian men and spent two years taking the tiny village of Mariinka! Urraaa!
Meanwhile russian ship: pic.twitter.com/O5TXlyd0VC
— Operator Starsky (@StarskyUA) December 26, 2023
Here, Ukrainian forces conducted a successful missile strike on the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
The main target of the strike became the Russian assault-landing ship “Novocherkassk” based in Feodosia. And the location of the ship is extremely important. As you remember, the main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet was Sevastopol, however, after Ukrainians destroyed multiple ships and the headquarters of the Russian command, Russians decided to move their base and headquarters to Feodosia, expecting it to be much safer. Unfortunately for Russians, this did not help.
Unlike most Ukrainian strikes on Crimea, this one was not as comprehensive and involved drones and missiles. The drones were reportedly launched from Odesa to distract and unload the Russian air defense systems, and immediately after that, Ukrainians launched 4 Storm Shadow missiles from two aircraft “Su-24M”.
Such a simple tactic means that Ukrainians collected more than enough information about the Russian air defense in the previous drone strikes and were certain that there was a safe corridor for the missiles. And Ukrainians were right because the missiles reached the target and completely annihilated it.
As it turned out, the ship was loaded with with hundreds of rockets for multiple-launch rocket systems, thousands of artillery shells, and also kamikaze drones “Shahed”. The detonation was so powerful that the remnants of the ship were found in the center of the city.
"Next to Feodosia Port, you can encounter many hull pieces of the large landing ship Novocherkassk, last night it sustained damage…"
Yep, definitely just damaged. pic.twitter.com/cMlAWcWAft
— English Luhansk (@loogunda) December 26, 2023
Interestingly, Ukrainians already tried to destroy this ship last year in Berdiansk, however, it sustained mild damage.
Today, Ukrainians definitely finished what they started because the freshest footage from the harbor indicated that the ship was sunken. Moreover, Russian sources also confirmed that the nearby ship “Capitan Guriev” was damaged by the explosion as well, while the ship “UTC-150” used for training was sunken.
The satellite footage confirms that two ships partially or completely disappeared underwater.
— Special Kherson Cat 🐈🇺🇦 (@bayraktar_1love) December 27, 2023
The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that the ship sustained damage, but at this stage, it is safe to say that it is irreversible. The Russian Ministry of Defense also claimed that all carriers of missiles responsible for the strike were destroyed by the Russian air defense system.
Some Russian sources raised the question of why the Russian air defense system did not prioritize the missiles. Other Russian sources confirmed that the air defense in the Kherson region was working and launched missiles in the direction of the Ukrainian jets.
Shortly after the launch, the objects reportedly disappeared from the Russian radars, suggesting that the interception was successful. However, one hour later, Russian analysts reported that 2 “Su-24M” took off from the Kanatovo airfield, implying that the jets were not intercepted – they just landed for refueling.
By the way, today’s missile strike makes the recent interception of Russian jets in the south even more significant. Some Russian analysts reported that Ukrainians basically killed two birds with one stone because they prevented extensive bombings and also undermined the Russian air defense. Under regular circumstances, operating so close to the front line would be dangerous for Ukrainians as the Russian superior jets can intercept Ukrainian jets from afar.
But as Russians stopped using their aviation in this region in fear of the Patriot systems, for example, Ukrainians obtained a window of a unique opportunity and immediately took advantage of it.
The British Minister of Defense commented on the situation and noted that just over the last four months, Ukrainian forces managed to destroy 20% of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which is an impressive result for a country with virtually no fleet.
Russian analysts raised the alarm that Ukrainians are targeting the biggest Russian ships, which are not only excruciatingly difficult to substitute with new ones but also serve as an alternative means of transportation in case Ukrainians destroy the Kerch Bridge.
If the biggest Russian ships in the Black Sea are gone, and the bridge is suddenly rendered inoperable, Russian logistics in the south will collapse.
Maybe this is one of the goals for the Ukrainian 2024 summer campaign.
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.