Ukrainian drones struck a Russian commercial port for the first time since the start of the war. Novorossiysk was shut down for a few hours after it was hit by Ukrainian air and sea drones. Two percent of the world’s oil supply and grain are shipped from Novorossiysk.
The Russian Defense Ministry claims that it was able to down several drones targeting its ports on Friday morning. Moscow says its defenses were able to disable Kiev’s drones targeting the Crimean Peninsula and Novorossiysk, a port located on the Russian mainland. The Russian military dubbed the Ukrainian strikes a “terrorist attack.”
Kiev claims it carried out the attack. Ukrainian officials often deny responsibility for attacks conducted inside of Russia, in part because Kiev has made several assurances to Washington that it would not use American assurance to target Russian territory.
The Associated Press published satellite photos of Novorossiysk appearing to show a damaged Russian ship at the port. The Security Service of Ukraine says it struck the Olenegorsky Gornyak, a Russian landing vessel. Some outlets are reporting the ship was severely damaged and leaking oil.
A Ukrainian source speaking with Reuters asserted that the Olenegorsky Gornyak was unable to engage in combat due to the damage. “As a result of the attack, the Olenegorsky Gornyak received a serious breach and currently cannot conduct its combat missions,” the source said. “All the Russian statements about a ‘repelled attack’ are fake.”
A retired Ukrainian military official told Reuters that the attack demonstrated a significant step up in abilities for Kiev as the drone flew an estimated 460 miles. “It was the first time … the Ukrainian navy projected power so far away,” he said.
Novorossiysk is reported to have resumed normal operations within hours of the attack.
Kiev has increased its attacks inside Russia and on civilian infrastructure in recent months as Ukrainian forces have been unable to break Russia’s defenses on the battlefield. Last month, Ukraine targeted the bridge that connects Russia to the Crimean Peninsula. Ukrainian militias, with members who are openly neo-Nazis, have used American weapons to carry out attacks inside of Russia. Some of the militants say they are working in coordination with Kiev.