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UK minister: Destruction of Russian ship proves there's no stalemate in war

by Dominic Culverwell December 26, 2023 3:21 PM 2 min read
U.K. Defence Minister Grant Shapps speaks during a joint press conference with Norway's Defence Minister and Ukraine's Vice Admiral Oleksii Neizhpapa in central London on Dec. 11, 2023. (BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
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U.K. Defense Minister Grant Shapps said on Dec. 26 that Ukraine's recent attack on a Russian ship in the Black Sea proves that there is no stalemate in the war.

The Dec. 26 missile strike targeted the port town Feodosia in occupied Crimea. Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk said that the attack had “destroyed” Russia's Novocherkassk ship, sharing a video of a large explosion.

“This latest destruction of (Russian dictator Vladimir) Putin's navy demonstrates that those who believe there's a stalemate in the Ukraine war are wrong,” Shapps wrote on X. “They haven't noticed that over the past 4 months 20% of Russia's Black Sea Fleet has been destroyed.”

On Nov. 1, Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi wrote in the Economist magazine that the war had reached a "stalemate” after Ukraine’s underwhelming counteroffensive this year. The comment received backlash from President Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration, with the president denying Ukraine was at an impasse.

While Ukraine’s land offensive failed to achieve significant progress, it is seeing notable successes in the Black Sea, despite not being a major naval power.

Since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion, Ukrainian forces have repeatedly struck Russian ships from the Black Sea Fleet, causing what U.K. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey characterized in October as a "functional defeat" of Russia's naval forces in the Black Sea.

According to Shapps, Russia’s Black Sea superiority is “now challenged” by Ukraine. He added that the new Maritime Capability Coalition, led by the U.K. and Norway and announced earlier this month, will help ensure Ukraine’s victory at sea.

Moscow responded to the strike on the Novocherkassk but said that the ship was “damaged” rather than destroyed.

Military: Ukraine damages Russian cruiser ‘Askold’ in Crimea
Satellite images published on Nov. 5 show that Ukraine’s attacks on Crimea on Nov. 4 damaged the Russian Askold cruise missile carrier, Navy Captain Andrii Ryzhenko told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s investigative program Schemes.
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