The Ukrainian hacker group Cyber Resistance claimed on Dec. 29 that it intercepted an email from the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s press service saying that Ukraine’s strike on the Russian Novocherkassk ship killed 74 and injured 27 Russian soldiers.
Ukrainian forces struck the Russian landing ship Novocherkassk, docked at Feodosia in occupied Crimea, in the early hours of Dec. 26. Although Russia claimed the ship had been only damaged in the strike, videos from the scene suggested it had been destroyed. The U.K. Defense Ministry later confirmed it had indeed been destroyed.
Sergey Aksyonov, the head of Russia's occupation authorities in Crimea, claimed that one person had been killed in the attack, and two others were injured.
According to Cyber Resistance, the press release was sent to an employee of Russia's state-owned TV channel Rossiya 1, whose mailbox the hacker group has purportedly controlled for months.
The press release allegedly contains a proposal by the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s Commander Nikolai Evmenov to declare a two-day mourning period in the Russian city Novocherkassk, after which the ship was named.
The Kyiv Independent couldn't confirm Cyber Resistance’s claim.
Several Crimean media outlets published news articles apparently based on this press release but later deleted them, according to screenshots shared by Cyber Resistance and Ukraine's National Resistance Center.
"It seems that the command of the Russian Navy is not very fond of the Kremlin's policy of covering up losses and treating people as a cheap resource," the National Resistance Center, run by Ukraine's military, wrote.
"Because, at the moment, it seems that the head of the fleet, Nikolai Evmenov, initiated the mourning events and the mailing without the consent of his leadership."
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 87 and can host almost 240 personnel.
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.