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Satellite images show Russian navy ship burning after Ukrainian strike in Crimea

Satellite images have revealed severe damage caused to the Russian tank landing ship Novocherkassk following Ukrainian strikes on a port in Crimea on Tuesday.

In images taken by Maxar, the ship can be seen burnt out and detached from the port, seemingly partially submerged, with smoke billowing from the vessel.

Ukraine claimed to have destroyed the ship in its attack on the port of Feodosia in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula illegally annexed by Russia in 2014. Moscow claimed the ship had been “damaged.”

The image, when compared with a previous image showing the ship before the strike, suggests a successful Ukrainian operation targeting the port.

The number of those who may have been killed in the strike may become more clear over time as the peninsula is currently under Russian control, a Ukrainian Navy spokesperson said Wednesday.

“This territory, unfortunately, is occupied now, and it’s not an easy thing to do the relevant intelligence. And I think that over time, we will get at least approximate figures [of casualties] of what happened in reality,” Ukrainian Navy Spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk said in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

“Nevertheless, these ships are usually not left without a crew. And, accordingly, even though it was in port at the time, a fairly large part of the crew had to be on board, and the total crew there is about 80 people,” he said.

According to a US military fact sheet on the Novocherkassk and the other vessels in its Ropucha class, the 369-foot (112.5-meter) vessel displaces about 3,450 tons, making about the same size as a US Navy littoral combat ship.

The Novocherkassk carries a crew of around 87 with capacity for 237 troops, according to the US military. It was not known how many personnel may have been aboard in the alleged Ukrainian attack.

The ship is designed for beach landings with bow and stern doors and the ability to accommodate up to 25 armored personnel carriers on its vehicle deck.

Ukrainian Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk, who said in a Telegram post after the attack that the ship had been destroyed, also claimed the vessel had been carrying Iran-made Shahed attack drones.

He said the Novocherkassk had “followed” the Moskva, the guided-missile cruiser that was the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet before it sank in April 2022 after being struck by Ukrainian missiles.

The Russian Defense Ministry meanwhile said the Novocherkassk had been “damaged” in a Ukrainian attack in a statement reported by the state-run TASS news agency.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported the strike and the damage to Novocherkask to President Vladimir Putin, according to TASS, quoting Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

In an update on Wednesday, the Crimea Health Ministry said that one person died and four were injured as a result of the attack, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

If confirmed, the Novocherkask alleged destruction would be the third instance of major losses of Russian military hardware in less than a week. In September, Ukraine also claimed that the Novocherkask’s sister ship, the Minsk, had been destroyed in an attack on the Sevastopol naval base in Crimea.

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