At least 20 Ukrainian commandos believed dead following covert Black Sea operation

A number of Ukrainian special forces troops were killed while carrying out a covert mission in Russian-occupied territory on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast on Wednesday, the country’s Special Operations Forces (SOF) announced on Thursday.

The soldiers, who were from Ukraine’s 73rd Marine Special Operations Centre, were killed in a “clash with Russian occupiers”, the SOF statement said, though it did not specify where or when the incident took place, or how many of its troops had been killed, saying only that the soldiers had been “ensuring the withdrawal of the main group forces after completing a special mission”.

The Russian-installed regional authorities told Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti that the Ukrainian forces had been “wiped out” during an attempted landing on the Tendra Spit in the Kherson region. 

The Russian pro-government Telegram channel MASH reported that the Ukrainian boats were “greeted with machine guns and mortars” as they approached the spit, adding that four boats had been sunk, one washed ashore, and a sixth escaped.

MASH said that at least 20 Ukrainian troops were killed during the landing attempt, with one more injured and taken prisoner by Russian soldiers. It also reported that Russian forces had taken US- and European-made weapons away as “trophies”.

News of the operation comes days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Fox News that the country was planning more “surprises” for Russian military targets in the Black Sea. The Armed Forces of Ukraine reported earlier in February that it had disabled or destroyed one third of all Russia’s Black Sea warships since the start of the full-scale war two years ago.

The Kremlin has not commented on the incident.

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