Russia has vowed it will respond to a Ukrainian attack that hit a Russian oil tanker in the Black Sea near Crimea on Friday night, which came after Ukraine’s first strikes on a Russian commercial port.
“Such barbaric actions cannot be justified and they will not remain without response, while their authors and perpetrators will inevitably be held accountable,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
“Facing no condemnation from the Western countries and international organization, the Kiev regime is busy applying more and more new terrorist techniques, this time in the waters of the Black Sea,” she added.
The following day, Ukraine reported a “massive” Russian missile and drone attack that was launched from the Black Sea. The Russian Defense Ministry said that it launched strikes on air bases in western Ukraine.
A Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) source told CNN that the Russian tanker, the Sig, was struck shortly before midnight on Friday by a sea drone carrying 992 pounds of TNT. According to Russian authorities, the Sig took on water after the strike blasted a hole in the engine room, and the tanker was assisted by tug boats.
The Russian side said the ship was not carrying oil when it was hit and that there were no casualties. Ukrainian officials claim some of the civilian crew were injured and that the ship was carrying oil for the Russian military.
The attack came after Ukraine targeted the commercial port in Russia’s Novorossiysk with sea and air drones. Over the past few weeks, Russia had been launching major missile and drone strikes on Ukrainian ports after withdrawing from the Black Sea grain deal.
The Ukrainian attack on Novorossiysk forced the port’s closure for a few hours, and Ukrainian officials said it also hit a Russian Navy vessel, the Olenegorsky Gornyak. Vasyl Malyuk, head of the Ukrainian SBU, said on Saturday that Ukraine was responsible for recent attacks on Russian ships as Kyiv has moved further away from its policy of ambiguity regarding attacks on Russian territory.
The Ukrainian attacks on Russian ports and ships could escalate as Ukraine’s maritime authority issued a warning that six Russian Black Sea ports and the area around them are in a “war risk” area.