Ukrainian Drones Hit a Russian Tanker Near Crimea, Russia Says

Ukrainian Drones Hit a Russian Tanker Near Crimea, Russia Says
A seaborne drone approaches a Russian tanker on the Black Sea, in this image from video made available on Aug. 5, 2023. (AP Photo)

KYIV, Ukraine—Ukrainian drones hit a Russian tanker in the Black Sea near Crimea, according to Russian officials and video circulating on social media.

The late Friday night strike was the second sea attack involving drones in one day, after Ukraine struck a Russian port earlier Friday.

Three weeks ago, Moscow withdrew from a key export agreement that allowed Ukraine to ship millions of tons of grain across the Black Sea for sale on world markets.

“The Sig tanker … suffered a hole in the engine room near the waterline on the starboard side, presumably as a result of a sea drone attack,” Russia’s Federal Agency for Marine and River Transport wrote on Telegram, adding that there were no casualties among the 11 crew members.

Vladimir Rogov, a Kremlin-installed official in Ukraine’s partially controlled southern Zaporizhzhia region, said several members of the ship’s crew were wounded because of broken glass.

Without specifying that Ukraine was responsible for the drone strike, Vasyl Malyuk, who leads Ukraine’s Security Service, said that “such special operations are conducted in the territorial waters of Ukraine and are completely legal.” Any such explosions, he said, are “an absolutely logical and effective step with regard to the enemy.”

The attack briefly halted traffic on the Kerch Bridge, as well as ferry transport.

Tugboats were deployed to assist the tanker, which is under United States sanctions for helping provide jet fuel to Russian forces fighting in Syria, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.

Ukraine’s earlier strike on Novorossiysk halted maritime traffic for a few hours and marked the first time a commercial Russian port has been targeted in the nearly 18-month-old conflict. The port has a naval base, shipbuilding yards and an oil terminal, and is key for exports. It lies about 110 kilometers (about 60 miles) east of Crimea.

A Telegram post on Saturday by Deputy Chair of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev implied that Russia would increase its attacks against Ukrainian ports in response to Kyiv’s attacks on Russian ships in the Black Sea:

“Apparently, the strikes on Odesa, Izmail, and other places were not enough for them,” he wrote.

In other developments, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday it captured a settlement in Ukraine’s easternmost Luhansk region, most of which is controlled by Russia. “In the area of Kupiansk … the settlement of Novoselivske was liberated,” the ministry wrote on Telegram.

Elsewhere, a two-day summit on finding a peaceful settlement to the war kicked off in Saudi Arabia.

Senior officials from around 40 countries—but not Russia—will aim to agree key principles on how to end the conflict.

The main Ukrainian envoy to the summit in Jeddah, chief Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak, spoke of the talks on Friday night in a television interview published on his Telegram account: “I expect that the conversation will be difficult, but behind us is truth, behind us goodness,” he said.

Commenting on the talks in Saudi Arabia, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russian state media that the idea of making decisions on the conflict without the participation of Moscow was “absurd.” Nevertheless, she said, delegates have “full scope for creativity” to discuss the issue.

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