Ukraine hits Russian shipyard in Crimea port, destroying cruise missile carrier the Askold

An image from an earlier attack on Sevastopol shows smoke rising from a fuel tank fire following an alleged Ukrainian drone strike, Crimea in November 2023 [File: Reuters]

Ukraine rained 15 cruise missiles on Russia’s shipyard in the Crimean port city of Kerch on Saturday, damaging one ship, the Russian defense ministry said, in an attack that could further undermine Moscow’s striking capabilities.

The Russian defense ministry said in a typical statement when reporting on Ukraine’s strikes on Russian territory or infrastructure.

Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in a widely condemned move in 2014. According to some Ukrainian war monitoring Telegram channels, a small Russian cruise missile carrier the Askold, was damaged in the attack.

The peninsula’s Russian-installed chief said on Saturday that downed missile fragments had hit a dry dock and that there were no casualties.

The “Askold” is a Karakurt class corvet, known as a carrier for the Kalibr cruise missiles, and is considered one of the newest and most modern vessels in the Russian Black Sea Fleet. It was laid down at the Zaliv shipyard in 2016 and was only launched in 2021.

Ukraine had “implemented successful strikes on marine and port infrastructure of the ‘Zalyv’ factory in the temporarily occupied city of Kerch,” the Department for Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a Telegram post, giving no further details.

“I hope another ship has followed the Moskva!” Mykola Oleshchuk, commander of Ukraine’s Air Force, said in a Telegram post, referring to the Russian Black Sea Fleet flagship sunk by Ukrainian missiles on April 14, 2022.

The Sevastopol Shipyard on the Crimean Peninsula was on fire early on 13 September 2023 and two ships were damaged after Ukraine launched 10 missiles and three speedboat attacks on the port, Russia’s defence ministry said. [X, formerly Twitter]

Oleshchuk said cruise missiles struck the infrastructure at Zalyv – which is now named BE Butoma – “where one of the most modern Russian Navy ships was stationed, a Kalibr cruise missile carrier”. He said he was “awaiting official confirmation of the results”.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-installed governor of Crimea, said air defense systems had been in action around a Kerch shipyard named after BE Butoma.

“Fragments of downed missiles fell onto the territory of one of the dry docks,” Aksyonov said in a Telegram post. “There were no casualties.”

Meanwhile, Russian news agencies cited the Russian Ministry of Defence confirming that Ukraine hit a shipyard in Kerch with 15 cruise missiles, damaging one ship. It added that air defense systems destroyed 13 of the Ukraine-launched missiles.

The Reuters and AFP news agencies said it was not possible to verify the Russian and Ukrainian statements, nor social media posts including videos of missile activity as well as fire and smoke that the posts said was rising from the same location the Ukrainian military mentioned.

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