Attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol ‘repelled’, says Russian-installed governor

The Russian Navy base in Sevastopol, 8 July 2016. Photo: MAXIM SHIPENKOV

The Russian Navy base in Sevastopol, 8 July 2016. Photo: MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Russian-appointed head of the city of Sevastopol, in annexed Crimea, said on Sunday that Russia’s Black Sea Fleet had been attacked with an anti-ship missile.

While no casualties were reported, he said that shrapnel from the missile had led to a small fire, which was promptly put out.

Earlier Sunday, local Telegram channels had reported explosions in Sevastopol. Ukrainian news website New Voice said that traffic on the logistically vital Crimean Bridge, which connects the annexed peninsula to Russia, was suspended for some time. The Ukrainians have not commented on the attack.

Russia has withdrawn nearly all its major ships from ports in occupied Crimea following a spate of successful Ukrainian strikes against vessels moored in Sevastopol, according to Ukrainian Navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk, who was quoted by The Kyiv Independent on 30 March. Russia began redeploying its Black Sea Fleet to the port city of Novorossiysk in southern Russia last year.

In November, a Ukrainian missile struck the Askold, a small cruise-missile carrier with eight launchers for Kalibr and Oniks cruise missiles, at the Butoma shipyard in the city of Kerch. Ukraine was successfully able to sink a further two Russian ships in December and February. In March, the Ukrainian Defence Ministry’s Intelligence Directorate said that its Group 13 special unit launched a successful attack on the Russian patrol ship Sergey Kotov.

Novaya Gazeta reported in March that Ukraine had already managed to destroy a third of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. The fleet numbered approximately 75 ships, not including support and escort vessels, when the war began in February 2022.

The Black Sea Fleet was partitioned between Russia and Ukraine in 1997 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, with Russia receiving 82% of the vessels. The same year, Russia and Ukraine signed a treaty that allowed the Russian-allocated ships to remain on Ukrainian territory until 2017, meaning Sevastopol Bay would be shared with the Ukrainian Navy. While in 2010 Russia’s lease was extended until 2042, the Ukrainian Navy relocated its headquarters to Odesa following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

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