Ukrainian Officials Claim US-Made Harpoon Missiles Used to Sink Russian Tugboat

The claim is not verified, but it's the first time Ukraine said it used the Western-provided arms

Several Ukrainian officials on Friday claimed that Ukrainian forces used two US-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles to sink a Russian tugboat in the Black Sea.

The claim has not been verified, and as of early Saturday morning in Moscow, Russian officials haven’t commented on the incident. But it marks the first time Ukraine said it used the Western-provided weapons.

The Ukrainian military said on Twitter that it “demilitarized” the Russian tugboat Vasiliy Bekh but did not specify what type of weapon was used.

The Ukrainian military claimed the Vasiliy Bekh was transporting personnel, weapons, and ammunition to Snake Island, although tugboats are not typically used as transport vessels since they are smaller than most warships. The Vasiliy Bekh is about 187 feet long and was designed for rescue operations, such as towing disabled vessels.

Denmark and Britain have both sent Harpoon missiles to Ukraine, and the US pledged to send two Harpoon launchers to Kyiv for the first time as part of a $1 billion weapons package that was announced this week.

Capable of hitting targets over 100 miles away, the Harpoons put many of Russia’s ships in the Black Sea in range, widening the area where Ukraine can use Western arms against Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly warned the West against giving weapons to Ukraine capable of hitting Russian territory, such as the rocket systems the US and Britain recently started providing.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.