Russian tanker damaged in new water drone attack

Russia’s TASS news agency says the chemical tanker SIG received a hole in the engine room near the waterline in the attack.

Russian-installed officials say explosions heard near the bridge linking Crimea to the Russian mainland were related to a drone attack on a Russian tanker [File: Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters]

A Russian tanker was damaged in a Ukrainian drone attack in the Black Sea, the second such strike in 24 hours, in the latest sign of Kyiv’s growing focus on naval warfare.

Russia’s chemical tanker SIG received a hole in the engine room near the waterline, Russia’s marine agency said on Saturday.

Tugboats were deployed to assist the tanker, which is under United States sanctions for assisting Russian forces in Syria, after the attack rendered it incapable of operating on its own, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.

“They will deal with it now on whether to take it under tow or not,” it quoted Russia’s rescue agency as saying. “It is standing at anchor for the moment. The machine room suffered some damage, not too badly.”

No casualties were reported.

Russia said it would punish Ukraine for using a sea drone to attack a civilian tanker near the Kerch Strait in what it said was a “terrorist act” that threatened the lives of the crew and risked “a large-scale environmental disaster”.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow would retaliate.

“The Kyiv regime, meeting no condemnation from Western countries and international organisations, is actively applying new terrorist methods, this time in the waters of the Black Sea,” Zakharova said in a statement.

“There can be no justification for such barbaric actions, they will not go unanswered and their authors and perpetrators will inevitably be punished.”

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev earlier on Saturday suggested Moscow would launch more strikes against Ukrainian ports in response to Kyiv’s attacks on Russian ships in the Black Sea, and threatened to hand Ukraine “an ecological catastrophe”.

Traffic on the bridge connecting the Russian-controlled Crimean peninsula with the Russian mainland stopped for several hours before resuming early on Saturday, Russia’s traffic information centre said.

Russia-installed officials said explosions heard in the area were not the result of any direct attack on the strategically important bridge, which was targeted in separate attacks in July and October last year.

The latest drone attack comes after Ukrainian officials said on Friday their drones had severely damaged the Russian warship Olenegorsky Gornyak.

Moscow said it repelled an attempted attack on Novorossiysk naval base, which marked the first assault on a commercial Russian port since the war began in February last year.

Analysts say Kyiv, which lost most of its navy after Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, wants to demonstrate its ability to hit Russian naval forces far from home after being dominated on the sea front for most of the war.

Ukraine’s navy is far outgunned by Russia’s naval forces, but has scored a number of significant victories through the use of unconventional weapons and tactics, including the sinking of the flagship guided missile cruiser Moskva in April 2022.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies