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Ukraine confirms striking 2 large Russian landing ships in occupied Crimea

by The Kyiv Independent news desk March 24, 2024 11:29 AM 3 min read
Ropucha-class landing ship Azov of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in the bay near Sevastopol, Crimea, in 2012. (Russia's Black Sea Fleet)
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Editor's Note: This is a developing story.

Ukraine struck two Russian Ropucha-class landing ships, "Yamal" and "Azov," in occupied Crimea in the late hours of March 23,  Ukraine's Armed Forces confirmed on March 24.

The attack also hit some Black Sea Fleet infrastructure in Crimea and a Russian military communication center, the Ukrainian military said.

In recent months, Ukraine has intensified its attacks on occupied Crimea, targeting Russian military assets in and around the Black Sea. Russia has illegally occupied the peninsula since 2014.

"Yamal," with 98 crew members, and "Azov," with 87 crew members, belong to the 197th Landing Ships Brigade of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and are actively used in the fleet’s exercises and training, according to the fleet’s website.

The extent of the destruction on the ships is not yet clear.

The Russian Defense Ministry has not yet commented on Ukraine's reports of the successful strike.

Ropucha class (Project 775) is a NATO label for ships that were built at Gdansk’s Stocznia Polnocna Shipyard in Poland during the Cold War and support sea-to-land military assault operations.

As of February, only five Ropucha-class landing ships remained in service in Russia's Black Sea Fleet out of a previous total of 13 following the sinking of the Caesar Kunikov on Feb. 14, Ukrainian Navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk said on television.

Air raid sirens went off in Sevastopol on the evening of March 23, with Russia's illegal administration in Sevastopol temporarily blocking vehicle traffic on the Crimean Bridge. It later claimed Russian forces had shot down more than 10 missiles.

Mikhail Razvozhaev, the head of Sevastopol's illegal Russian occupation government, called the attack "the most massive" in recent time, claiming that one person was killed and four were injured as a result.

As Ukraine's campaign against Russia's navy continues, Russia is redeploying its Black Sea Fleet from occupied Crimea to the relative safety of Novorossiysk, Ukraine’s military intelligence (HUR) reported on March 21.

The Strategic Communications Center of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (StratCom) recently reported that as of early February 2024, 33% of the fleet’s warships had been disabled including 24 ships and one submarine.

Russia has taken a number of steps to address the continuing threat, including replacing the commander of the Russian Navy earlier this month.

On March 17, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on a visit to Sevastopol said Black Sea Fleet ships would be armed with heavy-caliber machine guns to help destroy Ukrainian sea drones.

Referencing Russia’s new push to protect its ships, Yusov said that Ukraine’s future attacks will not necessarily be a repetition of previous operations.

“These will be new combined steps in the air, at sea, and on land.”

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