Ukraine claims critical strike on Caesar Kunikov, Russian Black Sea warship

The attack near occupied Crimea came as Ukraine’s new military chief toured the front lines.

Newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrsky, left, and Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine's military intelligence chief talk during an awarding ceremony in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024
Newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrskyii, left, and General Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine's military intelligence chief, talk in Kyiv on Friday, February 9, 2024 [AP Photo]

Ukraine reported its forces have critically damaged a large Russian warship off occupied Crimea, landing a new blow on its foe’s Black Sea fleet.

Ukraine’s armed forces said on Wednesday that the attack with naval drones had “destroyed” the Caesar Kunikov landing ship. The strike came as Kyiv’s new military chief toured the front lines, describing the situation as “complex”.

The military said via the Telegram messaging app that it had acted in concert with defence ministry intelligence to target the ship, which was in Ukrainian territorial waters near Alupka as it was hit.

The Ukrainska Pravda media outlet published videos showing a column of smoke over the sea off the southern coast of Crimea, and helicopters flying over the water.

Ukraine has mounted a series of attacks on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in recent months. Pushing its ships out of the sea’s western waters would help free up a key export route.

In February, Ukrainian forces used sea drones to attack and destroy a Russian warship. Cruise missiles struck a large Russian landing warship in December.

There was no immediate comment from Russia on the latest attack.

Cross-border attacks

On land, the pair continues to swap cross-border air strikes.

Russia launched several missile attacks on the town of Selydove in the eastern Donetsk region overnight, killing three people, injuring a dozen, and damaging a hospital and several apartments, Ukrainian officials said.

Donetsk Governor Vadym Filashkin said on the Telegram messaging app that 100 patients were evacuated after a wing of the town’s hospital was damaged. Several apartments in a five-storey residential building were destroyed, he added, injuring at least four people, including two children.

Russian state agency RIA reported that Moscow’s air defence systems destroyed nine Ukraine-launched drones over the Belgorod and Voronezh regions, as well as over the Black Sea.

Russia and Ukraine both deny targeting civilians in their attacks on each other’s territories.


The use of air strikes has grown as the front line has become largely bogged down in recent months.

Nevertheless, fierce fighting continues in the country’s east.

Visiting the area, newly appointed Ukrainian military chief Oleksandr Syrskyii described the situation as “extremely complex and stressful”.

Syrskyii, who was accompanied by Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, said in a social media statement that the Russian occupiers had “a numerical advantage in personnel”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies