Ukrainian Magura V5 kamikaze sea drone destroyed Russian warship Sergei Kotov

Ukraine has sunk a Russian warship near the Kerch strait in occupied Crimea, it said, in a further blow to Moscow’s naval power and its control over the Black Sea.

The HUR military intelligence agency in Kyiv said it attacked the Sergei Kotov on Monday night with naval drones. The vessel was on patrol. It suffered damage to the stern, right and left sides, and then sank, the agency said.

Video published by pro-Kremlin channels showed the moment of impact. Gunfire and bright flashes can be seen as the ship apparently opens fire on incoming drones. There is a powerful explosion. Witnesses quoted by Telegram channels reported five loud booms.

The fate of the Sergei Kotov’s 60 crew members is unknown. The HUR said it carried out the strike in cooperation with the naval forces of the armed forces of Ukraine, and the digital transformation ministry. “The cost of the sunken ship is about $65m dollars,” it said.

On 14 February, Ukraine sunk a heavy assault ship, the Caesar Kuznikov, near the Crimean resort town of Alushka. The Magura V5 naval drones used to destroy the vessel were also used to sink the Sergei Kotov.

The losses have has forced Moscow to relocate much of its Black Sea fleet to the safer Russian port of Novorossiysk. Last summer, Ukraine resumed exporting commercial grain shipments from Odesa and other ports.

Pro-Putin commentators expressed dismay at the loss of another warship. “I don’t want to comment on this. Because if this continues, the Black Sea Fleet will only have catamarans and rubber banana boats for tourists. [It’s] fucked up,” one posted on Telegram.

Ukrainian officials reacted with glee. The defence ministry tweeted that the Sergei Kotov – launched in 2021 – had become “a submarine”. It had “joined the Moskva”, the fleet’s powerful flagship, which was sunk in April 2022, at the beginning of Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion.

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