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Military says Russian landing ship sunk in Black Sea

by Nate Ostiller February 14, 2024 9:19 AM 2 min read
The Russian landing ship Caesar Kunikov, allegedly sunk in a drone attack on Feb. 14, 2024, passes through the Bosphorus in front of Saray Burnu in Istanbul, Turkey on Dec. 14, 2015. (Arif Hudaverdi Yaman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Editor's Note: This is a developing story and will continue to be updated.

The Russian landing ship Caesar Kunikov was sunk in the Black Sea in the morning of Feb. 14, the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces confirmed.

The General Staff said it was a joint operation between Ukraine's military intelligence and the armed forces.

Ukraine's military intelligence later shared a video of the attack and said it had been carried out off of the Crimean city of Alupka with Magura V5 naval drones. It claimed that Russian search and rescue operations were unsuccessful.

It is the fourth landing ship from Russia's Black Sea Fleet to be sunk since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in February 2022, according to the U.K. Defense Ministry.

Russia's Defense Ministry claimed earlier on Feb. 14 that it had shot down nine drones overnight, including six over the Black Sea. Local Telegram channels then shared videos of helicopters circling low over the water, appearing to be searching for something.

Ukrainska Pravda said earlier that sources from Ukraine's military intelligence claimed that its operatives used drones to carry out the attack and said that the Caesar Kunikov sank as a result.

The Caesar Kunikov's sister ship, the Novocherkassk, was "completely destroyed" by a Ukrainian missile strike in December 2023 while docked at Feodosia in occupied Crimea, the U.K. Defense Ministry said.

The Novocherkassk is a mid-size vessel with a length of almost 113 meters, designed for amphibious landings, and can carry armored vehicles, according to a U.S. military factsheet cited by CNN. It has a crew of around 87 and can host almost 240 personnel.

According to the website of the Black Sea Fleet, the Caesar Kunikov has similar specifications. It is unknown at the time of this publication how many personnel were on the ship when it was sunk.

Both ships were previously damaged by Ukrainian attacks at the port city of Berdiansk in March 2022. The Tapir-class landing ship the Saratov, was also destroyed.

The Minsk landing ship was "functionally destroyed" in a Ukrainian attack against the Sevmorzavod shipyard in occupied Crimea in September 2023, the U.K. Defense Ministry said.

The website of Russia's Black Sea Fleet said that as of 2024, there are only five remaining landing ships in the fleet, including the Caesar Kunikov.

Ukrainian Navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk said on Feb. 14 that following the sinking of the Caesar Kunikov, the number of Ropucha-class landing ships remaining in the Black Sea Fleet had decreased to five from a previous total of 13.

Ukraine has repeatedly struck Russia's Black Sea fleet since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, including the sinking of the flagship cruiser Moskva in April 2022 and a devastating missile attack on the fleet's headquarters in occupied Crimea that reportedly killed more than 30 officers.

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