KYIV, Nov 10 (Reuters) – Ukrainian naval drones sank two small Russian amphibious boats in Crimea, Ukraine’s military intelligence service said on Friday, as troops prepared for further Russian attacks in the east, particularly the shattered town of Avdiivka.
Reuters could not independently verify the report of the attack on Vuzka Bay in western Crimea, which a Ukrainian military analyst said was a significant attack and loss for Russia.
There was no immediate comment from Russia, which seized and annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and whose Black Sea Fleet is headquartered in the Crimean city of Sevastopol.
An initial report from Ukraine’s military intelligence service said the two small amphibious Russian ships had been hit overnight.
An update on Friday evening said the attack had been carried out by naval drones. It identified one landing craft as an Akula class vessel, the other a Serna class.
“The results of intelligence conducted on November 10, 2023 near Vuzka Bay in the temporarily occupied Crimea show that after an attack by naval drones, two small Russian amphibious ships have been destroyed,” the report said.
“As a consequence of the attack, both vessels went to the bottom, the Akula immediately and the Serna after attempts to salvage it.”
The Ukrainian military said the vessels were manned and loaded with armored vehicles.
“Boats like this are quite a significant loss …,” Andriy Ryzhenko, military analyst and reserve officer, told Radio NV.
“They allowed the transport of a tactical landing force and equipment relatively unobtrusively.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says attacks on naval targets have weakened Moscow’s military strength in the area. Ukraine says some Russian vessels have left Sevastopol.
AVDIIVKA UNDER CONSTANT ATTACK
In eastern Ukraine, officials in Avdiivka, under Russian fire since mid-October, expected a new attempt to advance on the town as the ground dries from several days of heavy rain.
“Things are as hot as they have always been. The enemy is firing around the clock in the city and around our positions,” Vitaliy Barabash, head of Avdiivka’s military administration, told public broadcaster Suspilne.
Barabash said a large number of 1,500 remaining residents of what was once a town of 32,000 were preparing to evacuate. Russian forces had started using drones to spot and shoot at smoke from makeshift stoves as the weather turned colder, he said.
Military analyst Serhiy Zgurets, writing on the Espreso TV website, said Russian forces were trying to take advantage of Ukraine’s focus on Avdiivka by trying to recapture areas they had lost near Bakhmut to the northeast. Russian forces captured Bakhmut in May, but Ukrainian troops have since recaptured nearby villages.
Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Ukraine began a counter-offensive in the south and east in early June, but has met strong resistance.
Russia’s defense minister said early Saturday that its anti-aircraft units had shot down Ukrainian drones over the Moscow region and near Smolensk, near the border with Belarus.
The unofficial Russian Telegram channel Baza reported that a drone had been shot down near a machine factory in Kolomna, 100 km (60 miles) southeast of Moscow, and posted a photo of what it said was a fire at an explosives factory in Kotovsk, further southeast.
Reuters could not determine whether the incidents reported by Baza were related to those from the Ministry of Defense and could not independently verify any of the reports.
Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Ron Popeski and Grant McCool
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