KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s military said Wednesday it sank a Russian landing ship in the Black Sea using naval drones, a report that has not been confirmed by Russian forces.

The Caesar Kunikov amphibious ship sank near Alupka, a city on the southern edge of the Crimean Peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014, Ukraine’s General Staff said. It said the ship can carry 87 crew members.

Sinking the vessel would be another embarrassing blow for the Russian Black Sea fleet and a significant success for Ukraine 10 days before the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

Ukraine has moved onto the defensive in the war, hindered by low ammunition supplies and a shortage of personnel, but has kept up its strikes behind the largely static 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) front line.

It is the second time in two weeks that Ukrainian forces have said they sank a Russian vessel in the Black Sea. Last week, they published a video that they said showed naval drones assaulting the Russian missile-armed corvette Ivanovets.

Ukraine’s Military Intelligence, known by its Ukrainian acronym GUR, said its special operations unit “Group 13” sank the Caesar Kunikov using Magura V5 sea drones on Wednesday, damaging the vessel on its left side. The same unit also struck on Feb. 1, according to officials.

Ukrainian attacks on Russian aircraft and ships in the Black Sea have helped push Moscow’s naval forces back from the coast, allowing Kyiv to increase crucial exports of grain and other goods through its southern ports.

A new generation of unmanned weapons systems has become a centerpiece of the war, both at sea and on land.

The Magura V5 drone, which looks like a sleek black speedboat, was unveiled last year. It reportedly has a top speed of 42 knots (80 kph, 50 mph) and a payload of 320 kilograms (700 pounds).

The Russian military did not immediately comment on the claimed sinking, saying only that it downed six Ukrainian drones over the Black Sea overnight.

Caesar Kunikov, for whom the Russian vessel was named, was a World War II hero of the Soviet Union for his exploits and died on Feb. 14, the same day as the Ukrainian drone strike, in 1943.


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