Ukrainian Air Force Claims Destruction Of Russian Ship In Crimea; Moscow Confirms Missile Strike

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(RFE/RL) — Ukraine’s air force hit a major naval port on the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula, and claimed a Russian naval landing ship docked there was destroyed.

Ukraine’s military said in a post to Telegram on December 26 that tactical aviation units fired cruise missiles at the port of Feodosia, on the eastern side of the Black Sea peninsula, around 3 a.m. local time, hitting the ship, the Novocherkassk.

Explosions reverberated throughout the city, waking up residents, setting off car alarms, and breaking storefront and building windows some distance away from the port.

The commander of Ukraine’s air force, Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk, said in a post on Telegram that “Russia’s naval fleet is getting smaller,” and suggested that Ukrainian jets were involved, but gave no other details.

“We saw how powerful the explosion and detonation were,” Colonel Yuriy Ihnat, an air force spokesman, told RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service. “It’s extremely difficult for a ship to survive something like that.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed that the Novocherkassk had been damaged by a Ukrainian missile, but gave no other information. The Kremlin said that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had briefed President Vladimir Putin on the strike, a possible indication of the seriousness of the attack.

“An enemy attack was carried out in the Feodosia area. The port area is cordoned off. At this moment, explosions have stopped and the fire has been contained,” Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-backed governor of the Crimea region, said in a post to Telegram.

He said one person was killed, and two others wounded in the attack. He gave no further information.

Unverified photos and videos showed fireballs climbing into the night sky, accompanied by an enormous shockwave. Photographs taken by a correspondent for Crimea Realities, a regional desk of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, showed broken windows on several buildings along the city’s waterfront embankment.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy expressed “special thanks” to the Ukrainian Air Force for its “excellent work against the occupiers in Crimea” but did not say anything specific about the attack or the state of the Novocherkassk.

RFE/RL’s Crimea.Realities reported that two Russian vessels left the port of Feodosia in the afternoon of December 26. It was not possible to identify the ships by name, but judging by their size, the vessels were a military ship and a military boat belonging to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, Crimea.Realities reported.

Elsewhere, Russia’s military claimed the capture of the eastern town of Maryinka, which would potentially open up a new corridor for advancing in the Donetsk region. Shoigu was shown in a televised meeting on December 25 telling Putin about the town’s purported capture.

Kyiv initially disputed the claim, but on December 26 the Ukrainian military’s commander in chief, General Valeriy Zaluzhniy, said Kyiv’s forces had retreated from Maryinka and new defense lines had been prepared outside the town, which is largely destroyed and deserted but holds strategic importance.

Maryinka is located just under 30 kilometers southwest of the city of Donetsk, which is controlled by Russian forces.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said late on December 26 that a Russian strike on a train station in the southern city of Kherson killed at least one person and wounded four others. The train station was filled with about 140 civilians waiting for an evacuation train at the time of the attack.

Ukraine’s national railway operator said the station and trains were damaged in the attack.

“Currently, several injured workers are known. Passengers are in shelter,” Ukrzaliznytsia added.

The company planned to transfer the passengers to buses that would take them to Mykolayiv, where reserve railway cars were waiting.

“The situation is under control, the railway workers are ready to continue moving,” Ukrzaliznytsia said.

The head of the regional military administration, Oleksandr Prokudin, said Russian shelling of the region during the day on December 26 left three dead and several wounded. It was unclear whether this included the attack on the train station.

RFE RL

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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