Images shared on social networks in the early hours of this Friday appear to show explosions in the Russian port of Novorossiysk.
A Ukrainian source told CNN that a maritime drone with 450 kilograms of TNT had attacked a Russian ship with a hundred soldiers on board that was next to the port.
It is the first time that Ukrainian drones have targeted a Russian commercial port since the start of the war 18 months ago.
Novorossiysk is far from Ukrainian territory, in the farthest part of occupied Crimea, so it is difficult for the Ukrainians to get that far with an attack.
The Russian authorities acknowledged that an attack had occurred, although they claimed no damage had been caused.
“Tonight, the Ukrainian Armed Forces, with the use of two unmanned ships, tried to attack the Novorossiysk naval base of the Russian Armed Forces,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on Telegram, according to an AFP translation.
Other Russian ships destroyed the drones and the attack was thwarted. But videos posted by Ukrainian officials on social media suggest otherwise.
In dash cam footage tweeted by Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, a Ukrainian maritime drone is seen approaching the Russian warship and crashing into its side before the signal was cut off. Video taken later appears to show the vessel badly damaged after the attack and listing to one side while being towed.
It has not been confirmed which ship it was, although a Ukrainian Security Service source identified it to Reuters as the Olenegorkiy Gornya, a landing ship with around 100 crew members.
“As a result of the attack, the Olenegorsky Gornyak received a serious breach and is currently unable to carry out its combat missions,” the source told Reuters. No casualties have been reported.
In line with their security policy, Ukrainian authorities have not commented on the attack.
Veniamin Kondratiev, governor of the Krasnodar region, where the base is located, said there were no casualties.
The statement comes at a time when Ukrainian attacks on the Russian Black Sea Fleet have increased in recent weeks.
According to AFP, earlier this week, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had thwarted another drone attack targeting patrol boats southwest of Sevastopol. A similar attack was repulsed a week earlier.
Last week, Ukraine showed off its new maritime drone for the first time, which carries hundreds of kilos of explosives and is faster than any other in the Black Sea, CNN reported.
A drone pilot, code name “Shark,” told CNN that the drone had managed to slow down the movements of the Russian Navy. It is not clear if it was this particular drone that was responsible for the attack on Friday.