Ukrainian Military Sinks Russian Landing Ship in Black Sea Assault

Group 13’s Drone Strike Adds to Losses in Ongoing Maritime Conflict

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In the ongoing maritime theater of operations within the Black Sea, the Ukrainian military’s Group 13 unit has asserted responsibility for the destruction of another vessel belonging to the Russian Black Sea Fleet. This incident adds to a series of setbacks encountered by the Russian maritime forces in the region.

In a development witnessed on Wednesday morning, Group 13 disseminated visual evidence purportedly showcasing the utilization of suicide drone boats in an assault operation targeting a vessel in proximity to the coastline. The vessel in question, identified by Group 13 as the Caesar Kunikov, exhibits the characteristic features typical of a Ropucha-class landing vessel, including an open foredeck configuration and a prominently elevated deckhouse structure. Successive footage from the released video depicts multiple drone units converging upon the hull of the targeted vessel, subsequently culminating in detonations that were visibly recorded by subsequent inbound drone units.

The footage concludes with the targeted vessel exhibiting signs of distress, notably settling by the stern before tilting heavily towards the port side, leading Group 13 to claim the vessel’s capsizing and subsequent sinking.

Official statements from Russian defense authorities have yet to acknowledge the reported attack; however, corroborating accounts from Russian social media platforms have acknowledged the occurrence of explosions off the Crimean coastline on the specified Wednesday morning. Additionally, independent reports from local news sources suggest the initiation of a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation in the vicinity.

It is noteworthy that the primary mission of Russia’s tank landing ships within the context of the ongoing conflict has shifted from amphibious assault operations to the transportation of armaments and munitions from Russian-controlled ports along the northeastern Black Sea to strategic locales nearer to the front lines, such as Berdyansk situated on the Sea of Azov. This change in operational focus has rendered these vessels susceptible to targeting by Ukrainian drone and missile assets, given their frequent carriage of volatile cargo.

The recent attack on the Caesar Kunikov marks another instance in a series of incidents involving damage or destruction of Russian naval assets by Ukrainian forces. Notable casualties include the Olenegorsky Gornyak, damaged in August 2023; Minsk, functionally destroyed in September 2023; Saratov, destroyed in March 2022; Novocherkassk, damaged in March 2022 and subsequently destroyed in December 2023, among others.

It is pertinent to highlight that Ukraine, lacking a conventional navy since the onset of the 2022 invasion, has effectively executed its maritime operations in the Black Sea theater utilizing an array of assets including anti-ship cruise missiles, drone boats, aircraft, and special operations units.

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