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Ukraine war latest: Russian ferry crossing, 4 patrol boats struck in Crimea, military says

by The Kyiv Independent news desk and Kateryna Denisova May 30, 2024 11:28 PM 9 min read
A view of the Kerch ferry crossing in occupied Crimea after Ukraine's strikes. (Ukraine's General Staff)
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Key developments on May 30:

  • Ukraine hit 4 Russian patrol boats in occupied Crimea overnight, military intelligence says
  • Ukraine hits Russian ferry crossing with ATACMS in Crimea, General Staff says
  • Politico: Biden quietly allows Ukraine to strike Russia with US arms but 'solely near Kharkiv'
  • Ukraine can use Danish-supplied F-16s to strike Russian territory, Danish foreign minister says
  • German defense minister arrives in Odesa, announces $542 million aid package for Ukraine
  • Syrskyi: Russia building up forces near Kharkiv Oblast but not enough for breakthrough

Ukrainian Magura 5V naval drones destroyed two and damaged two more Russian patrol boats in occupied Crimea during the overnight attack on May 30, Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR) said.

All four boats are of the KS-701 Tunets (Tuna) model.

"The occupiers used these vessels for logistics and patrolling the waters near the occupied peninsula," HUR said.

The agency said that its Group 13 unit attacked a boat depot with naval drones in Vuzka Bay, which lies at the Chornomorske town on Crimea's western coast.

In order to thwart the attack, Russian forces scrambled their aircraft 32 times, including Su-27/30/35 and MiG-29 jets, Be-12 and An-26 aircraft, and Ka-27/29 and Mi-8 helicopters, the statement read.

Russian troops also reportedly responded with chaotic fire from small arms and 30 mm cannons.

Earlier the same day, Russian authorities claimed that a Ukrainian missile attack damaged two transport ferries in the port city of Kerch in eastern Crimea.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Russian air defense downed eight long-range U.S.-supplied ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) missiles and eight drones overnight.

Magura drones destroyed the Russian Sergey Kotov patrol ship on March 5, and the Ropucha-class landing ship Caesar Kunikov was sunk by drones on Feb. 14.

Ukraine’s Navy says it destroyed Russian sea minesweeper Kovrovets overnight
The report refutes Moscow’s earlier claims of having repelled all strikes on occupied Crimea overnight.

Ukraine hits Russian ferry crossing with ATACMS in Crimea, General Staff says

The Ukrainian military struck the Russian Kerch ferry crossing in occupied Crimea overnight on May 30, the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces reported.

The ferry crossing was hit with U.S.-provided long-range ATACMS missiles, according to the General Staff.

Moscow "actively used" the ferry crossing to supply Russian troops in the occupied peninsula and defended it with Russian Pantsir, Tor, and Triumph air defense systems, the military said.

Two ferries were “significantly damaged,” the General Staff said, sharing the photos showing traces of damage. One of the ferries was stranded and reportedly "blocked the functioning of the entire Kerch crossing."

"Thanks to the successful combat work of Ukrainian missile launchers, the occupiers' military logistics on the peninsula have been significantly undermined," the General Staff's statement read.

The Kyiv Independent could not verify these claims.

Russia uses the bridge and ferries across the Kerch Strait to transport military supplies for Russian occupying forces in Crimea and southern Ukraine.

Ukraine claimed responsibility for attacks that inflicted serious damage on the bridge in October 2022 and July 2023.

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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War Notes

Politico: Biden quietly allows Ukraine to strike Russia with US arms but "solely near Kharkiv"

U.S. President Joe Biden's administration secretly lifted the ban for Ukraine to strike Russian territory with American weapons, but "solely near the area of Kharkiv," Politico reported on May 30, citing three unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

The U.S. and German officials have repeatedly said that they do not support or encourage Kyiv's strikes with their weapons on Russian soil reportedly due to fears this would lead to an escalation of the war.

“The president recently directed his team to ensure that Ukraine is able to use U.S. weapons for counter-fire purposes in Kharkiv, so Ukraine can hit back at Russian forces hitting them or preparing to hit them,” an unnamed American official told the outlet.

The source added that Washington's policy of allowing long-range strikes "has not changed" and Ukraine cannot use U.S. weapons to hit military targets deep inside Russia.

Ukraine can now use American-provided arms such as rockets to shoot down Russian missiles heading toward Kharkiv, at troops massing over the Russian border, or aircraft launching bombs at Ukraine's territory, Politico wrote, citing another U.S. official.

Neither Kyiv nor Washington has officially commented on these reports.

Calls for Ukraine to be allowed to strike military targets on Russian territory with Western weapons have grown after Russia launched a new offensive in Kharkiv Oblast on May 10, with 30,000 troops reportedly involved in the operation.

"We see every point of concentration of Russian troops. We know all the areas where Russian missiles and combat aircraft are launched," President Volodymyr Zelensky said on May 26.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly adopted a declaration on May 27 that supported an end to restrictions that prohibited Ukraine's use of Western-supplied weapons against military targets inside Russia.

The next day, French President Emmanuel Macron said at a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that Ukraine should be allowed to strike military bases on Russian territory from which Moscow carries out missile attacks against Ukraine.

Over 10 European countries also supported this move, with some saying that they did not set any restrictions on Ukraine's strikes with their weapons on Russian territory.

Ukraine urges allies to lift Western arms ban on hitting targets inside Russia. Will they?
Following a new Russian offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine is increasingly raising pressure on its allies, urging them to lift restrictions on the use of Western-provided weapons against military targets inside Russia. Months before the offensive, Kyiv had publicly pledged not to use Western-made…

Ukraine can use Danish-supplied F-16s to strike Russian territory, Danish FM says

Ukraine may use Danish-supplied F-16 jets to strike military targets in Russian territory, as this would be "within the rules of war," Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels on May 30.

Denmark founded the "fighter jet coalition" for Ukraine with the Netherlands in July 2023. The group of countries pledged to provide Kyiv with F-16s and help train Ukrainian pilots and technical staff to operate the U.S.-made fourth-generation jets.

The first batch of Danish F-16s is expected to be handed over to Ukraine this summer.

Over recent weeks, Ukraine has called for its partners to allow strikes on Russian territory with Western weapons, a move that Washington and Berlin, the top two providers of military aid to Ukraine, have long been against.

"This is not a carte blanche for Ukraine to use the F-16 to make arbitrary attacks into Russia," Rasmussen told reporters.

"We are talking about an opportunity to weaken the aggressor by taking military installations out onto Russian territory."

"It is completely within the rules of war that a country that is attacked must be able to answer for itself," Rasmussen said.

"There is also no Ukrainian interest in taking over the kind of warfare you have from the Russian side, where you go after residential properties," referring to Russia's indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

Ukraine may receive up to 100,000 shells next month under Prague-led initiative, Czech official says
To provide Ukraine with 1.5 million of shells this year, 1.7 billion euros ($1.8 billion) will be needed, said Tomas Kopecny, the Czech envoy for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

German defense minister arrives in Odesa, announces $542 million aid package for Ukraine

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced a new military aid package for Ukraine worth 500 million euros ($542 million) on May 30 during an unannounced visit to the port city of Odesa, Berliner Zeitung reported.

Pistorius arrived at a time when Kyiv is raising pressure on its allies, urging them to lift restrictions on the use of Western-provided weapons against military targets inside Russia. Berlin repeatedly opposed the idea due to fears this would lead to an escalation of the war.

The new package will reportedly include ammunition for Iris-T air defense systems and shorter-range SLS missiles, as well as reconnaissance drones, 1 million rounds of small arms ammunition, Leopard 1 battle tanks, and Marder armored vehicles.

Berlin will also send to Ukraine spare parts for artillery systems and Leopard battle tanks, Pistorius said. Some of the materials are about to be delivered, he added.

“We will continue to support you in this defensive struggle,” the German minister said during a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Rustem Umerov.

This marks Pistorius' third visit to Ukraine since the outbreak of the full-scale war in February 2022.

The trip to Odesa was not announced in advance due to security reasons as Russia intensified its air strikes and launched the offensive in the country's east, the newspaper wrote. The minister previously visited Kyiv in November 2023.

Pistorius said in mid-May that Berlin would supply Ukraine with an additional Patriot air defense system without specifying the delivery date. Kyiv is also expected to receive another Iris-T air defense system.

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Syrskyi: Russia building up forces near Kharkiv Oblast but not enough for breakthrough

Russia is building up forces near Kharkiv Oblast, but they are not enough to break through Ukrainian defenses, Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said on May 30.

Moscow launched a new offensive on May 10 in northern Kharkiv Oblast. Last week, the Ukrainian military reported that the Russian advance in the sector had been halted and that Kyiv's troops were conducting counterattacks.

Russian forces are increasing the number of troops near the villages of Strilecha and Lyptsi, as well as the town of Vovchansk. These numbers are not enough to carry out a new offensive, according to Syrskyi.

The commander-in-chief said that the Russian military's activities are complicated by the deployment of Ukrainian reserve units to the "hot" areas of the front line.

The accumulation of ammunition supplies and degradation of Russian forces also reduced Russian offensive capabilities, Syrskyi wrote on Facebook.

"Therefore, the enemy has switched to the tactic of hitting our positions with artillery fire and strikes with aerial bombs," Syrskyi said.

"In these circumstances, the destruction of the aircraft carrying the KABs (satellite-guided bombs), as well as reconnaissance drones and fire adjusters, electronic warfare protection of our troops, camouflage, and the use of mock-ups are of paramount importance."

The commander added that the Ukrainian military leadership is currently taking "urgent measures" to improve the air defense control system, its automation, and its coordination with the Ground Forces' firepower and electronic warfare systems.

Moscow is forming another grouping of forces near Ukraine's northern border, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on May 26. The Ukrainian military did not rule out a similar Russian offensive in Sumy Oblast.

Washington, Berlin signal potential policy change, paving way for permission for Ukraine to strike Russian territory
U.S. and Germany are signaling a potential change to their long-standing policy of not allowing Ukraine to strike military targets on Russian territory with U.S. and German-supplied weapons, according to recent statements and two articles published by Politico on May 29.

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