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Ukraine says it has sunk a Russian Black Sea patrol ship near Crimea

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Ukrainian sea drones hit and sank a Russian Black Sea Fleet patrol ship off occupied Crimea in an overnight attack, the Ukrainian military said on Tuesday.

The Ukrainian military intelligence agency said a special unit called Group 13 had fired Magura V5 maritime drones at the Sergey Kotov near the Kerch Strait, which connects the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea.

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It said on the Telegram messaging app that the vessel had sustained damage to the stern, starboard and port sides, at an estimated cost of $65 million.

“Right now this ship is on the seabed as a result of fire damage by unmanned boats,” navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk said in televised comments, adding that a helicopter may have been on board.

Reuters was unable to verify the reports. The Russian defense ministry did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Some Russian military bloggers confirmed the account. The Telegram channel VChK-OGPU reported attempts to tow the ship to port but said it eventually sank.

Ukraine has in recent months stepped up attacks in the Black Sea and on Crimea, which Russia seized and annexed in 2014.

Kyiv has reported a series of strikes, including the sinking of a large landing ship by naval drones in mid-February.

Pletenchuk said the Sergey Kotov had also been hit in September 2023 and that a similar patrol vessel had also been damaged in attacks since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

“They have four similar ships, two of them are no longer in service,” he said.

Reuters was unable to confirm the earlier strikes.

Train and highway traffic was temporarily stopped and later resumed on a bridge spanning the Kerch Strait and linking the Crimean Peninsula to the Russian mainland, Moscow-installed officials in Crimea said.

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Russia controls close to one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in November Kyiv had seized the initiative in the Black Sea and forced back Russia’s fleet.

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