(CNN) — A maritime drone attacked one of Russia’s biggest oil tankers, the latest salvo in a Ukrainian military campaign that has used unmanned vehicles to attack Russian targets far away by air and by sea.A drone carrying 450 kilograms (992 pounds) of TNT hit the Russian ship Sig shortly before midnight, according to a Ukrainian Security Service source. The impact created a hole in the ship’s engine room at the waterline on the starboard side, forcing the 11 crew members to fight their way into the water, Russian authorities said. The flood has finally stopped.
Russia’s Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport said no casualties were reported and the Sig was not carrying oil when the drone crashed into the ship. nonetheless, Ukrainian officials said some crew members were injured and the tanker was carrying fuel for the Russian military.
CNN has not been able to independently verify the claims.
The attack on the SIG came just hours after Ukrainian maritime drones attacked a major naval base in Novorossiysk, a coastal city on the Black Sea that is home to Russia’s biggest port by volume of cargo handled. A Russian amphibious landing ship was hit, leaving it seriously slippery and very low in the water.
Ukraine has also stepped up its attacks using unmanned aerial vehicles in recent weeks, hitting targets inside Russian territory, including Moscow.
The attack on the tanker was carried out in a joint operation with the Navy, a source in the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) told CNN.
Ukraine promises more attacks on Russian ships and Crimean bridges
Ukraine has announced that it intends to continue attacks with maritime drones, after two attacks with these types of weapons in 24 hours.
The head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Vasyl Maliuk, said on Saturday that any explosion that happened on Russian ships or on the Crimean bridge is “an absolutely logical and effective step. Moreover, these special operations were carried out. in the territorial waters of Ukraine and are completely legal”.
Maliuk said that if the Russians wanted these explosions to stop, “they have the only option to do so: they leave Ukrainian territorial waters and our country.”
Russia says attack ‘will not go unanswered’
According to a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Ukrainian attack on a Russian tanker on Friday night “will not go unanswered”.
“There is no justification for these barbaric actions; they will not remain unanswered; those who organized it will inevitably be punished,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Saturday.
Zakharova said Kyiv carried out the attack “using new terrorist methods” and called on Western countries and international organizations to condemn the attack.
The attack, he said, “threatens not only the death of his crew, but also the threat of a full-scale environmental disaster.”
(Russia’s Federal Agency for Shipping and River Transport said no casualties were reported and the ship was not carrying oil when it was attacked. nonetheless, Ukrainian officials said some crew members were injured on the tanker brought gas to the Russian army).
Importance of Crimea
The two sea attacks on Friday took place near the Kerch, which connects the Crimean peninsula with mainland Russia.
After the peninsula was illegally annexed in 2014, the Kremlin spent about $3.7 billion to connect Crimea to Russia with a physical and symbolic bridge. Russian President Vladimir Putin personally led a 19-kilometer convoy, the longest in Europe, to celebrate his inauguration in 2018.
The Kerch bridge has been attacked several times since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. An explosion in October killed three people and collapsed part of the highway, and Ukrainian forces attacked the bridge last month.
Friday’s attack, nonetheless, emerged as one of the biggest to date. In addition to the attacks on the SIG and the naval base, on Friday morning, Ukrainian aerial drones attacked an oil storage facility in Feodosia, a city on the southern coast of the Crimean peninsula. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, ten drones were shot down in total over Crimea.
Ukrainian authorities have vowed to continue attacking the bridge and ships sailing in Ukrainian territorial waters, even though they are controlled by Russia.
The Ukrainian State Hydrological Service also warned ships not to use several Russian ports because of the war.
Ukrainian agencies, especially the Security Service, have been notably vocal about the use of these drones in the Black Sea after months of reluctance.
Its use is both a morale booster and a battlefield advantage, allowing Kyiv to exploit new domestic engineering technologies at sea as its forces fight to gain ground in the counteroffensive on land.
With information from Mariya Knight
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