By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — “Not all of this is the result of the work of our drones,” Ukrainian Navy spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk said, but they have caused “quite a lot of damage to enemy ships.” (file photo)
The Russian fleet has suffered “serious damage” largely caused by Ukrainian drones, according to Ukrainian Navy spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk, who said the tactics have made Ukraine the driver of a new type of naval warfare.
Pletenchuk, speaking on Ukrainian television on November 17, claimed that 15 Russian ships have been destroyed and 12 damaged since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“Not all of this is the result of the work of our drones,” he said, but they have caused “quite a lot of damage to enemy ships.”
Pletenchuk said this has made Ukraine a leader in “a new level of application of unmanned systems,” and is recognized as such.
“We have a separate team…that [uses] both surface and underwater drones. And not only for reconnaissance and demining, but also for destruction,” Pletenchuk said.
Russian forces in the Black Sea have recently “reduced significantly” thanks to the work of the Ukrainian defense forces, he claimed. He added that the Russian military has been forced to “remain as far away as possible and is significantly limited in its actions,” though the Ukrainian military previously has said that bad weather in autumn and winter typically forces Russian missile carriers to move into their base ports.
While the Russian position could be described as defensive, the enemy still has cruise missile carriers at its disposal, meaning the danger is still present, he noted.
Pletenchuk added that Ukrainian forces will continue their moves to weaken the Russian fleet.
“Of course, we will expand our influence at the first opportunity,” he said.
Russia has repeatedly claimed to have shot down drones over Crimea that appeared headed for its assets on the peninsula.
The Russian Defense Ministry said last week that a Ukrainian attack involving multiple drones on the Moscow-occupied Crimea region was repelled by Russian air defenses. A ministry statement said nine drones were destroyed and eight others were intercepted off the Black Sea coast of Crimea.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy last month pledged to keep pressure on Russian-occupied Crimea after an attempted drone attack on the Moscow fleet installation in Sevastopol.
Zelenskiy said on October 24 that while Ukrainian forces have not yet gained full fire control over Crimea and surrounding waters, the “illusions” of Russia’s domination of Crimea “are melting.”