Two Russian landing boats filled with armoured vehicles destroyed by Ukraine in ‘significant loss’ for Putin

Ukraine on Friday said its naval drones had destroyed two small Russian landing boats in Crimea, in an embarrassment for President Vladimir Putin.

Ukrainian military intelligence said two amphibious Russian ships loaded with armoured vehicles had been hit by naval drones overnight.

One of the boats was identified as an Akula class vessel, while the other landing vessel was a Serna class.

“The results of intelligence conducted on 10 November 2023 near Vuzka Bay in temporarily occupied Crimea show that after an attack by naval drones, two small Russian landing ships have been destroyed,” a Ukraine military report said.

“As a consequence of the attack, both vessels went to the bottom, the Akula straight away and the Serna after attempts to save it.”

Russia, which illegally annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and has stationed its Black Sea Fleet in the region’s main city of Sevastopol, has not commented on the reported losses.

The incident comes amid Russia’s intensified attack on the key eastern Ukrainian frontline town of Avdiivka, which Moscow has encircled with a force of 40,000 troops for a fresh assault.

One Ukrainian analyst described the loss of the Crimean ships as one of the biggest single setbacks for Mr Putin in the nearly 21-month war in Ukraine.

“Boats like this are quite a significant loss,” Andriy Ryzhenko, Ukrainian military analyst and reserve officer, told Radio NV. “They allowed for the transport of a tactical landing force and equipment relatively inconspicuously.”

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky said attacks on naval targets have dented Moscow’s military strength in the area.

Ukraine has been increasingly targeting Russia’s Black Sea fleet, stationed in Crimea. Last week, Ukraine claimed to have struck a new Russian missile carrier causing significant damage to the vessel.

Mykola Oleshchuk, the commander of Ukraine’s air force, announced Ukraine had targeted the Zaliv shipyard in Crimea, conducting at least three strikes on the Askold vessel.

In September, Ukraine destroyed state-of-the-art Russian air defences in Crimea and damaged two ships.

Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, sank in the waters off Ukraine during the early days of the war in April 2022.